In a decade, opioid-related inpatient stays rose 64 percent across the nation, while emergency room visits nearly doubled.
The nation’s epidemic of opioid abuse is sending Americans to the hospital at an alarming rate.
Between 2005 and 2014, the number of people visiting emergency departments and hospitalized for opioid misuse and dependence increased dramatically, according to data released in June 2017 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In that 10-year span, opioid-related inpatient stays rose 64 percent across the nation, while emergency room visits nearly doubled. The numbers include treatment related to prescription opioid painkillers as well as heroin.
These increases played out differently according to gender, age and residence.
More than 12 million Americans misused prescription opioids in 2015, according to to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The scope of the opioid crisis demands a coordinated response from all health care stakeholders, says Dr. Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
A recent review of medical claims by the Association showed a 493 percent increase in opioid use disorder from 2010 to 2016.
“Opioid use disorder is a complex issue, and there is no single approach to solving it,” he said. “It will take a collaborative effort among medical professionals, insurers, employers, communities and all levels of government working together to develop solutions that effectively meet community needs.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, which are operated by the same company, implemented a Controlled Substance Integration Program to collaborate with pharmacists, doctors, case managers and behavioral health specialists to develop a plan of action for members who need help.
In 2016 the program was expanded to monitor medical claims to identify and work with doctors who prescribe more opioid painkillers than most of their peers.
And in early 2017, the company’s plans eliminated the requirement for doctors to get prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment, which combines behavioral therapy with drugs such as buprenorphine that ease an addict’s cravings for opioids.