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Cigna, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, has announced that it will be partnering with the American Society of Addiction medicine to come up with a better approach to substance abuse treatment.

Looking at the Evidence

Together, the companies will be researching the evidence for various approaches to treatment and diagnosis of substance abuse-related disorders. The goal is to come up with better medical practices, and possibly an established set of prescribing/treatment guidelines for both insurance companies and medical providers. There is a lack of performance-based measures in mental health and substance abuse treatment, as noted by Dr. William Lopez, the senior medical director at Cigna. He was recently quoted as saying, “Our position is that we want to individualize the treatments and by having some guidelines that are more holistic, we will attain that goal. We want to move from volume to value.”

What This Means for Addicts

This is good news for those suffering from substance abuse or mental health issues- rewarding doctors for effective treatment and proper care for each individual, rather than for how many patients they can get through their doors, should result in a considerable increase in the quality of mental healthcare in this country. Paying closer attention to individual patients would allow doctors to better identify chronic relapsers or those with a history of substance abuse, permitting earlier intervention and treatment rather than perpetuation of the problem.

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