The Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission, formed to advise President Donald Trump on the ongoing opioid epidemic, met last week to discuss the role played by health insurance companies and their policies in contributing to the addiction problem. The commission noted that certain health insurance policies have a partisan attitude toward pain treatment with opioids. Mostly, the policies cover only one type of addiction treatment, limiting the insurance cover.
It is expected that the commission will suggest some stringent rules for insurance providers. This can be the next big step in dealing with the opioid crisis after asking the President to declare it as a national emergency. The commission is scheduled to submit its final report to President Trump on Nov. 1, 2017, just before he follows up on his promise to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency.
Insurance policies do not cover addiction treatment
The chairman of the commission, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said that insurance policies are not adequate when it comes to addressing addiction treatment or psychological illness. The existing insurance policies do not cater to addiction treatment as they do so in case of other health problems. In an interview with the USA TODAY, he said, “Why are we still not seeing addiction services covered, and mental health services covered as broadly as every other type of disease? And what do we need to do to make sure that the law is enforced and followed?”
New policies may be pressing for insurance companies
Gov. Christie had issued a warning to insurance companies, stating that the final report of the opioid commission may bring demanding surprises for them. “It is painful that drug companies and insurance companies thrive while the entire nation grapples with an epidemic of addiction,” said Christie. “As millions succumb to overdoses across the nation, drug companies continue to make profits, while remaining oblivious to the conundrum.”
Even the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 forbids the insurance companies to dodge substance abuse and mental illness treatment. The federal law mandates health insurance companies to regard addiction and mental disorders like any other disease. It is not a prerogative of the insurance companies to provide lesser benefits to them.
Insurance companies have limitations
However, insurance companies have also revealed their share of problems, saying that their policies are part of a complex problem and there is more than meets the eye. The companies highlighted that there are other issues to the whole problem, including shortage of doctors and inadequately trained medical staff. Yet, a report from a task force, convened by ex-president Barack Obama last year, indicated that insurance policies still imposed a host of limitations on coverage, including stringent pre-authorization rules.
Health insurance companies have also come under the scanner and received widespread flak for policies that favored powerful and addictive opioids over less addictive ones. They tend to prefer those with expensive formulations. Therefore, it would be interesting to see how things turn out for them once the final report is presented in a few days.
Dealing with addiction
Substance abuse is a scourge and is fatal, if left untreated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids and heroin. In spite of this, with treatment, one can gain complete freedom from any kind of addiction and lead a life of sobriety.
Sovereign Health is a leading provider of comprehensive substance abuse treatment in the U.S. If you have a loved one struggling with an addiction problem, get in touch with our 24/7 helpline members for more information. Whether it is our detox treatment centers in California, or at a place nearer home, help is just a call away. Our neurotransmitter therapy is immensely popular in the country and has a high success rate for addiction treatment. You can also chat online with our trained representatives for immediate assistance.