Opioid addiction treatments are costing employers billions

The cost of treating opioid addiction among American workers and their families has skyrocketed in recent years, a ne...

Posted: Apr 5, 2018 3:04 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2018 3:04 PM

The cost of treating opioid addiction among American workers and their families has skyrocketed in recent years, a new study has found.

People covered by employer health insurance received $2.6 billion worth of treatment for opioid addiction and overdoses in 2016, up from $273 million in 2004, according to a report published Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Some $2.3 billion was covered by insurance, while patients shelled out $335 million.

Just over half the spending was for the treatment of workers' children, while just under a third was for the employee themselves. The rest covered spouses' treatment.

The report provides yet another data point on the toll opioids are taking on American life. The Trump administration, lawmakers, governors and many others are looking for ways to curb the epidemic. The head of the US Food and Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb, told CNN's Sanjay Gupta Wednesday that doctors should undergo mandatory training on pain management and the prescribing of painkillers. Also, Congress has held numerous hearings and introduced legislation hoping to address the problem.

Related: This is how lawmakers plan to end the opioid crisis

Roughly $1.3 billion was spent on outpatient treatment in 2016, with the average expense coming in at $4,700, according to Kaiser. Employees footed $670 of that bill.

Some $911 million went toward inpatient care, which cost $16,100 on average. Workers were responsible for a little more than $1,600. Prescription drugs used for treatment cost $435 million.

These figures include only payments for treatment covered at least in part by insurance, not services that are fully paid for out-of-pocket and not billed to insurance. So it's likely the full cost of treatment is even higher, Kaiser notes. The report analyzed claims from employers with more than 1,000 workers.

The spending spike on opioid treatment comes even as the use of painkillers has declined.

Related: Opioid crisis fast facts

In 2016, only 13.6% of enrollees had a opioid prescription, down from a peak of 17.3% in 2009 and 15.7% in 2004. Some of the steepest reductions were among people with complications from pregnancy or childbirth, musculoskeletal conditions, cancer and injuries.

People ages 55 to 64 had the highest share of opioid prescriptions, and women were somewhat more likely to have received a painkiller prescription than men. Opioid prescriptions were also more common in the South than in the West or Northeast.

In total, large employers and their enrollees spent $1.4 billion on prescription painkillers in 2016, down 27% from the 2009 peak. Workers paid a total of $263 million for the medications.

West Lafayette
Few Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 72°
Kokomo
Scattered Clouds
68° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 68°
Rensselaer
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 66°
Fowler
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 66°
Williamsport
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 70°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 67°
Frankfort
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 73°
Delphi
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 69°
Monticello
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 69°
Logansport
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 70°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193

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