posted by Rashi Venkataraman, Executive Director For Prevention & Population Health, AHIP
on June 28, 2018
In 2016, 1,700 people in southeastern Pennsylvania died from an opioid overdose. From July 2016 to July 2017, Pennsylvania had the fastest growing rate of drug overdose deaths nationwide, the CDC reports.
Philadelphia-based Independence Blue Cross has shown its commitment to addressing the opioid crisis, and has teamed up with doctors, hospitals, and community partners to reduce overprescribing and improve access to therapy for those in need.
One of the first strategies deployed by the Independence team was to refine medical policies and identify providers who may be over prescribing.
As a part of this effort, Independence:
The results of these efforts speak for themselves. Since 2015, Independence has seen a major drop in opioid use, with a 45 percent reduction in opioid users, a 35 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions, and an 18 percent drop in morphine equivalent dose.
Beyond prescribing practices, Independence is also working to improve member access to treatments for opioid use disorder. Coverage for opioid use disorder can be complex and include programs for detoxification, rehabilitation, outpatient programs, counseling, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Treating opioid use disorder promptly and effectively is more than the right thing to do; it can also contain health care costs. Independence analysis shows that a member with unaddressed opioid use disorder uses about $10,000 more in health care services than a member with opioid use disorder who receives evidence-based treatment, such as buprenorphine or naltrexone.
“What this tells us is that for every 100 members we can guide into effective treatment, we’ll be saving our members $1 million in claims costs,” says Dr. Richard Snyder, chief medical officer of Independence Blue Cross. “We’re proud that our provider network includes more than 100 different substance abuse rehabilitation facilities and more than 5,000 behavioral health providers. Having the network of trained providers is a critical component of building out your treatment and recovery strategy.”
Independence Blue Cross serves over 8.4 million people in nearly 30 states, including more than 2.5 million people in Southeastern Pennsylvania. To learn more about its strategy for tackling the opioid crisis, visit www.ibx.com/fightopioidaddiction.