Study: Cost of treating opioid addiction soars

Study: Cost of treating opioid addiction soars
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The annual cost of treating opioid addiction and overdoses has risen dramatically over the last 13 years, as the epidemic tightens its grip on the country.

In 2016, people with health coverage through their employer received $2.6 billion in opioid treatment services, compared to $273 million in 2004, according to an analysis released Thursday morning by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Opioid use on employer-based health plans peaked in 2009 with about 17.3 percent of enrollees receiving at least one prescription that year. It has since fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade — 13.6 percent, the Kaiser report shows.

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Yet, the opioid epidemic has shown no signs of slowing down. Deaths involving opioids rose nearly 28 percent from 2015 to 2016, an increase driven largely by powerful synthetic opioids, one of which is up to 50 times more potent than heroin.

The cost of inpatient treatment has increased dramatically, from $5,809 in 2004 to $16,104 in 2016, according to Kaiser.  

Congress and the Trump administration have been wrestling with how to halt the opioid epidemic and how best to boost access to treatment services and curb the overprescribing of opioids.

The Senate Health Committee on Wednesday released a bipartisan draft of legislation to curb the opioid epidemic. On the other side of the Capitol, the House Energy and Commerce Committee hopes to have an opioid package on the House floor by Memorial Day weekend.