How Opioid Addictions Affect Our Healthcare
February 25, 2018 | Opioid Crisis
Heroin along with a long list of other opioid drugs are having a devastating impact on social, health, and economic wellbeing of communities big and small all across the United States. Opioid addiction does not discriminate and no one is immune to the dangers. Once addicted, users find it difficult to fight and overcome the habit and it is very easy to step over the line from a slight overdose to an overdose that can become deadly.
“The United States is in the midst of a public health crisis. Every day, 91 Americans die from opioid overdoses. Opioid addiction has a tremendous negative effect on parents and children by destroying lives and breaking up families. When used appropriately, these drugs, such as morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl, provide much needed pain relief to patients, especially after a surgical procedure or during treatment for cancer. Unfortunately, opioids also have qualities that make them addictive and prone to overuse and abuse” (The-Hospitalist).
It is also an unfortunate truth that this abuse and addiction takes a huge toll on the health industry which in turns impacts everyday citizens.
Impact on Doctors and Hospitals
The impact of the growing opioid crisis and the rising number of individuals who are addicted and suffering the effects of overdose and withdrawal is impacting the medical community in a dramatic way. Emergency system resources, who are already understaffed and overworked, are further taxed and drained due to the ever growing influx of 911 calls for opioid related deaths and overdoses. Instead of being available to quickly respond to calls for heart attacks, strokes, and other emergencies, first responders are being tied up responding to overdose calls. This resource drain spreads to emergency rooms and hospitals as they treat these patients and the ripple effect continues as the cost of all these medical resources eventually gets handed down to the customer paying for their medical insurance.
The opioid epidemic yields impacts that are felt in all areas of the United States, but it is especially impacting the health care industry. Visits to the ER and other emergency care centers are growing in number while billions of dollars get spent every year to take care of those who are addicted to opioids. Additionally, the socioeconomic effects of addiction and withdrawal lead to increased numbers of diagnosis for other disorders such as depression, anxiety, and mood swings, and it is also a leading cause for missed days of work or school, unemployment instances in some communities, drop-out rates, and loss of productivity. When looking at those addicted to opioids, even if they survive their lives as they know them are gone forever. Also, the epidemic is adversely affecting families and contribute to instances of abuse and neglect, domestic violence, divorce and deaths within the family. By generating plans and protocols for medical personnel, patients, and families affected by opioid use, addiction, or overdose, our medical care facilities can have a positive influence on patients’ lives and ultimately break the cycle of the opioid epidemic and the downward spiral we are struggling against today.
Impact of opioids on Insurance Companies
The final front that is bearing the brunt of the cost the opioid crisis is having on our way of life is the average citizen. As the cost of providing medical treatment goes up, insurance companies are being forced to pay out more to hospitals and other medical facilities. They then in turn pass on the additional expense to their customers through increases in premium rates and more restrictions on what is and is not covered and offered under their insurance plans.
“Medicare and Medicaid plans have processes that detect signs of opioid misuse and discourage abuse. Many insurance companies administer these plans and have expanded their processes to members of private and workplace plans… Some insurers review claims for signs of opioid abuse. An insurer then typically contacts the member, pharmacist and any prescribing doctors involved in a potential abuse case, and they create a plan to lower use. If the patient and doctor can’t reduce the amount or dosage of opioids, the insurer might eventually stop paying for the prescription or send the case to its investigation team” (NerdWallet).
This is perhaps the biggest impact we are seeing today when it comes to how the opioid addiction and abuse crisis is impacting access to health care and medical services today.
Our experienced team of opioid lawyers will help you navigate the minefield that is the insurance industry when determining compensation for the hardships and loss the Opioid Crisis has caused. We offer free no-obligation consultation with our attorneys. Contact us today.
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