There has been a movement afoot by physicians, social workers, and consumer advocacy groups to require all healthcare plans on the federal exchange to cover medications that are used to treat people addicted to painkillers.
The federal government has declared opioid addiction a “public health crisis,” and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 28,600 people died in 2014 due to overdoses from prescription painkillers, other opioids, and heroin. From Congress right down to local government officials everyone is trying to find solutions to handle the growing opioid and heroin epidemic. To turn this around is going to take a lot of education, compassion and better treatment options for those addicted, and support and guidance for those family members, friends, and loved ones who are trying to help.
It certainly would be a wise choice to cover the cost of the medication-assisted treatment. For so many addicts relapse is more common than you’d think. To begin with, it is hard to get into a treatment program due to the lack of inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, and if you do get into a program, once you’re through the cost of staying drug-free can become a burden too.
Drug addiction treatment has been shown to reduce associated health and social costs by far more than the cost of the treatment itself. According to Drugabuse.gov, the average cost for one full year of methadone maintenance treatment is approximate $4,700 per patient (2012 statistic). That is a lot less than incarcerating someone at a cost of nearly $24000 a year. And let’s face it, many of those addicted to painkillers are never going to get the necessary treatment in prison to deal with their addiction and turn their lives around. Jails are not, and never will be, appropriate treatment centers for addicts. I don’t believe that prison is an alternative to a drug treatment program. We need more treatment centers, more programs and more money to fight this epidemic. Call your elected officials and let them know that you want medication-assisted drugs covered under the healthcare bill.
Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.