STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Aetna waives co-pay for opioid overdose drug

Aetna says it will try to fight the opioid crisis by waiving anti-overdose drug co-pays and limiting first-time opioi...

Posted: Dec 13, 2017 10:34 AM
Updated: Dec 13, 2017 10:34 AM

Aetna says it will try to fight the opioid crisis by waiving anti-overdose drug co-pays and limiting first-time opioid prescriptions.

Starting on January 1, the co-pay on Narcan will be waived for some customers, the health insurer said on Tuesday. Narcan is a branded version of the naloxone nasal spray which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose.

"Aetna is committed to addressing the opioid crisis through prevention, intervention and treatment," said Harold L. Paz, Aetna's chief medical officer.

Paz explained that while Narcan is available over-the-counter in most states, physicians who believe their patients to be at risk of overdosing will often prescribe the drug. By waiving the co-pay, Paz said, the insurer can reduce barriers to patients getting the treatments they need.

Related: Ohio blames drugmakers for fueling opioid crisis

Aetna said that while Narcan co-pays range between $0 and $150, most Aetna customers pay between $30 and $40 for the drug. The company also found that people who had to pay between $100.01 and $150 for Narcan were far less likely to pick up their prescription than people who had to pay between $40.01 and $50.

The waived co-pay only applies to Aetna's 4.6 million fully-insured commercial members. Those members get their health care through an employer, which in turn uses Aetna to offer, underwrite and administer health care services.

Aetna's 13.5 million self-insured customers -- who also get health care through an employer, but whose employer uses Aetna for administrative services only -- won't have access to the co-pay waiver (unless their employer opts into the program).

Related: The opioid crisis is draining America of workers

In addition, Aetna will cap the supply of opioids prescribed to commercial pharmacy members for acute pain, or after a surgery, to seven days. CVS made a similar announcement in September.

To support the decision, Aetna pointed to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study which concluded that people who were prescribed at least one day of opioid therapy had a 6% chance of being addicted a year later -- but that those prescribed eight or more days of treatment saw that figure spike to 13.5%. The cap will take effect on January 1.

The CDC says drug overdose deaths last year are expected to top 64,000 when the numbers are finalized. Most of those overdoses involved an opioid.

President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency in October.

Health insurers, including Aetna, have taken steps in the past to fight the epidemic. Last year, Cigna started flagging high-risk customers -- those who got large amounts of opioid medicines, were on opioid medication for a long time or used different doctors to prescribe drugs -- and alerting those customers' doctors. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts started a similar program in 2012.

West Lafayette
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 53°
Kokomo
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 44°
Rensselaer
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 48°
Fowler
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 48°
Williamsport
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 50°
Crawfordsville
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 45°
Frankfort
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 45°
Delphi
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 47°
Monticello
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 47°
Logansport
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 44°
Spotty Showers Early, followed by Cooler Temps and Breezy NE Winds.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 108646

Reported Deaths: 3478
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20341757
Lake10013312
Elkhart6198106
St. Joseph586796
Allen5785198
Hamilton4600109
Vanderburgh318126
Hendricks2607120
Monroe224336
Johnson2241122
Tippecanoe211313
Clark205056
Porter197843
Cass19209
Delaware180159
Vigo169621
Madison153075
LaPorte134837
Floyd127961
Howard125163
Kosciusko116717
Bartholomew113257
Warrick104134
Marshall97423
Boone93846
Dubois92118
Hancock89242
Noble86432
Grant85132
Henry73424
Jackson7259
Wayne72214
Morgan68038
Shelby65529
LaGrange62811
Daviess61627
Dearborn61428
Clinton59111
Harrison54824
Putnam5098
Lawrence49928
Montgomery49421
White47114
Knox4659
Decatur44739
Gibson4344
DeKalb42511
Miami4202
Greene40935
Fayette40413
Jasper3732
Scott34410
Steuben3447
Sullivan32612
Jennings30512
Franklin29225
Posey2900
Clay2855
Orange27924
Ripley2768
Carroll26713
Wabash2547
Washington2491
Whitley2456
Wells2422
Starke2387
Jefferson2363
Adams2303
Fulton2292
Tipton21522
Huntington2073
Randolph2047
Perry20014
Spencer1984
Jay1640
Newton16411
Owen1621
Martin1560
Rush1484
Pike1331
Vermillion1210
Fountain1152
Pulaski1121
Blackford1072
Crawford980
Brown933
Parke902
Benton880
Union760
Ohio757
Switzerland660
Warren381
Unassigned0225

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events