Employers Feeling the Pinch as Costs of Opioid Addiction Rise

10 April 2018
Opioid Addiction Costs Rise for Employers

That latest contingent to feel the residual costs of the opioid addiction epidemic is the American business community…and we mean “costs” literally. New data from the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that large businesses saw a staggering 800 percent increase in the annual cost of treating overdose and addiction related to prescription-painkiller and illicit-opioid addiction. The report illustrates that from 2004 to 2016, costs rose from under $300 million to $2.6 billion and that half of these costs were associated with treating newborns suffering from addiction from dependent parents. Geographic data revealed that the Southern United States had the highest rates of opioid addiction, despite the rampant overdoses in Ohio, New Hampshire and West Virginia.

Is There A Silver Lining?

The report also revealed that use of prescription painkillers among Americans with employer-based health insurance fell to a ten-year low. In an epidemic where only a fraction of those affected are getting the treatment they need, there is a clear line between access to quality treatment resources and the collective rate of long-term recovery and abstinence. These numbers indicate that if opioid users are provided with treatment options, through their employer or elsewhere, they have the care and support they need to begin the recovery journey the right way, rather than waiting on a list to get into a treatment center.

What Do These Numbers Tell Us?

While opioid addiction has no signs of slowing down and continues to claim more and more American lives each year, more and more entities are forced to incur the overall the costs. This spike in treatment costs to large businesses is just one more example of the far-reaching tentacles of this public health epidemic. It’s becoming incumbent upon more and more non-medical stakeholders to step up and lend their efforts and resources to the problem; the question is whether or not this is sustainable.