Health Plans’ Spending on Opioid Abuse Soars 1,375%

Health insurers saw an incredible increase of 1,375% in spending on patients with opioid dependence during a four-year period, according to a study by Fair Health, a not-for-profit data collector that provides cost transparency information.


Health insurers’ payments to treatment centers, hospitals, labs, and providers grew from $32 million in 2011 to $446 million in 2015, according to the report.


Researches looked at CPT codes maintained by the American Medical Association. The report states: “Based on total claim lines for the period, the test for barbiturates (CPT 82205) grew the most, by more than 1,800 percent. The next greatest increase was for the test for opioids (CPT 83925), which grew by more than 1,500 percent. Testing for methadone specifically (CPT 83840), primarily in the context of monitoring compliance with methadone treatment programs, increased by 979 percent. Tests to screen for other drugs, such as benzodiazepines (CPT 80154), cocaine or metabolite (CPT 82520) and amphetamines and methamphetamines (CPT 82145), increased in use by roughly tenfold.”