STOP Playbook: How Health Plans Are Tackling The Opioid Crisis

posted by AHIP

on March 11, 2019


More than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, a two-fold increase in a decade (NIDA). Of these overdose deaths, opioids were involved in more than 67 percent of deaths (CDC). Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans, outnumbering both traffic accidents and gun-related deaths (CDC). More than two million Americans are estimated to be dependent on opioids (SAMHSA). A staggering 95 million people used prescription painkillers in the past year — more than used tobacco (SAMHSA).

In December 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Center for Health Statistics announced that fentanyl has emerged as the deadliest drug in the United States, with more than 18,000 overdose deaths in 2016. A synthetic opioid, fentanyl can be 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine and is often mixed with illicit substances. According to the CDC, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl doubled each year from 2013 to 2016. And as the opioid crisis has evolved from prescription medications for pain to increasingly include the impact of illicit drugs, a growing share of overdose deaths are caused by other substances such as methamphetamine and cocaine (CDC) and combinations of multiple substances.

Health plans nationwide are working closely with state and federal leaders, as well as with physicians and other providers, to address the opioid crisis that is devastating individuals and their families in communities across the country. In October 2017, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) launched its Safe, Transparent Opioid Prescribing (STOP) Initiative. The STOP Initiative is designed to support widespread adoption of evidence-based clinical recommendations developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for pain care and opioid prescribing.

Click below to view the full STOP Playbook