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How Medicare is Fighting the Opioid Crisis

The number of drug abuse related deaths in the United States continues to increase year after year. In 2017, the total deaths related to drug overdoses was 10% higher than the previous year. Synthetic opioids caused nearly half of those deaths. The rise of opioid abuse in the U.S. has raised concerns with health care officials as experts work together to find a way to prevent the problem before it starts.

Medicare plays a significant role in the opioid abuse epidemic than many people realize as the program is responsible for more than a fifth of all prescription opioid purchases. In 2016, Medicare Part D spending was $146 billion. Many believe the expansion of opioid drug coverage in Medicare Part D is responsible for the issue. When the program reduced the cost of these prescriptions, it made them much easier to obtain.

Fortunately, there is help available, and Medicare is playing a huge part in fighting our nation’s opioid crisis.

How is Medicare Fighting Opioid Abuse?

The Medicare Advantage Plan offered through private insurance companies cover more than a third of all Medicare beneficiaries. Because Medicare Advantage offers both drug and medical coverage, these insurance plans have more motivation to decrease opioid abuse.

The experts state that Medicare Advantage Plans offer an incentive to account for the spillover effects of prescription drug use. The incentive includes the cost of care, and the plan can choose which physicians to include in its network and how the system manages its care. A Medicare standalone plan that offers Part D coverage doesn’t provide the same benefits. That is because the cost of addressing the medical issues associated with opioid abuse is not their concern.

From an economic viewpoint, those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan are 9 to 37 percent less likely to obtain an opioid prescription from their health care provider than others. That is a massive impact on the United States fight against opioid abuse.

It is common knowledge that opioid abuse is higher in areas with high unemployment or in areas with high poverty. The effect of Medicare Advantage is the same as living in an area with socioeconomic advantages. In other words, it helps to prevent the problem before it has a chance to start.  

To learn more about Medicare and the fight against opioid abuse in the U.S., contact the professionals from at 1-844-374-1950. Our licensed insurance experts will be happy to answer any questions you have.