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Health insurers address opioid addiction crisis

Posted: November 9, 2017

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The nation’s largest insurers signaled a new approach to the opioid crisis that has ravaged families across the country, declaring Wednesday that addiction deserves the same urgency and respect as cancer or diabetes, and should be treated as a chronic disease requiring long-term treatment and monitoring.

Adopting eight “principles of care,” 16 health insurers covering 248 million people said in a statement they would use their purchasing power to reward proven, evidence-based treatments, a step that could improve the quality of care available.

Among those endorsing the commitment were UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Cigna and WellCare, all national companies, and New Jersey’s largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

The goal is to “make sure future patients aren’t forced to cycle in and out of treatment, wondering why they don’t work,” said Gary Mendell, a former hotel executive who founded the non-profit Shatterproof after his son died from addiction. Shatterproof hosted the conference call announcement with executives from Cigna and Horizon.

Shatterproof convened a national task force earlier this year that included experts and insurance executives.

The core principles the group endorsed were derived from the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2016 report on alcohol, drugs and health. They include routine screening for substance-use disorders in primary care practices, rapid access to addiction treatment, long-term outpatient care and monitoring and coordination of substance-abuse care with other health needs.

Read the full story at WAIA-TV: 11alive.com | Insurers: Addiction needs same urgency as cancer care

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