Opioids are being prescribed more and more often, and the topic of overdoses and complications due to opioids has been an increasingly alarming area of concern in recent months especially. Overdoses and addiction to opioids have tragically become more commonplace over the last several years and have escalated to the point of being labeled as an epidemic. Insurance companies and related providers must be aware of recent developments and do their part to help stem the opioid epidemic when possible.
An article from June 2017, published by STAT highlights countless alarming statistics related to opioids in America including the fact that over two decades, from 1991 to 2011, the number of prescriptions for opioid drugs tripled. The article also reports that the deaths of over 33 thousand people in the United States in 2015 were tied to opioids. While this number is staggering by itself, it is expected by many experts to continue to rise over the next several years. The article goes on to state that opioids are predicted to be the cause of death for as many as 500 million United States citizens within the next ten-year period.
Currently, overdoses are causing 100 people to pass away every day in the U.S. In fact; overdoses are the leading cause of death right now for those under 50 years of age in America. Experts contributing to the STAT article predict that this number may continue to rise until it reaches 250 opioid-related deaths per day.
The increasing occurrence of overdoses, complications, and deaths related to opioid use is not only tragic but also takes a large financial toll. The STAT article includes estimates that the misuse of opioids may cost Americans almost 80 billion dollars annually. Combined with the expert predictions of increased drug abuse and overdose occurrences, this number could escalate quickly to several hundred billion dollars in costs.
There is some progress being made in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Medical providers are turning to alternative prescriptions and therapies to assist with pain relief, for example. The current administration is examining new policies to help curb the epidemic and Naloxone is being more widely distributed to emergency medical personnel as a way to prevent or stop an overdose from occurring.
As a leader in the automobile no-fault claims administration industry, Northwood is also doing its part. In addition to its proven prescription pre-authorization process and claimant monitoring, Northwood is developing a program for the insurance companies it partners with to further monitor and alert to possible opioid misuse. Northwood takes this opioid epidemic and its responsibility to its claimants seriously, and more details on this innovative new program will follow.
For more information on additional ways that Northwood assists with reducing opioid and prescription drug abuse, please contact Rosanne Brugnoni at 586-755-3830 ext. 3771.
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