Opioid abuse and addiction are huge problems nationwide, and as they grow so do the costs of private health insurance. A recent study by FAIR Health found that opioid-related treatment has caused a sharp rise in the cost of health insurance over the last five years.

Using a database of over 21 billion health insurance claims (so, a pretty substantial data set), FAIR Health found that the cost of medical charges to opioid patients grew from $72 million in 2011 to $722 million in 2015. That’s a 1,000% increase.

Let that number hit you for a second.

All that extra money is both because there are more opioid patients and because of the high costs of treatment. In 2015, the average cost for a patient diagnosed with opioid addiction or dependence was $16,000 greater than other kinds of claims. Addiction is complicated, and so is its care.

Conclusions: one way to fight the rising healthcare costs plaguing North Carolina is to invest in innovative measures to fight opioid abuse and dependence. The Drug Diversion program recently instituted in Wilmington (which needs it BAD) is one of them, and we hope to see more like it.

Check out the summary of the study here.

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