The continuing devastation of the opioid epidemic in this country has put pressure on lawmakers, law enforcement agents, and government officials to find ways to stop the barrage of overdoses and drug-related fatalities. But perhaps the most pressure has been put on the insurance industry, to make addiction treatment more accessible and feasible for those that need it.
Insurance Companies Loosen Restrictions on Treatment
In a promising bit of recent news, Aetna, one of the major providers of health insurance in the United States, will become the third insurance carrier (along with Anthem and Cigna) to loosen its restrictions on eligibility for addiction treatment and removing a key barrier to help. Specifically, they will no longer require doctors to gain approval for prescribing medications such as Suboxone that assist in easing withdrawal symptoms and getting addicts on the road to recovery. The current restrictions require doctors to seek this approval for each patient in a process known as “prior authorization,” that can take days to get a prescription filled. As any addict knows, the window of willingness to get help is often short, and if someone is in danger of withdrawal, a delay of days, or even hours, could mean continued drug use, risk of overdose, and an unwillingness to follow through with treatment. This change in regulation will likely be hugely beneficial to addicts that become open to getting help. Doctors know that being able to provide immediate support, as opposed to making people wait, could make the difference in helping more people to recover. Reducing the amount of red tape and insurance paperwork needed will also free up more of doctors’ and hospitals’ time, to be able to help more people. The change in regulation will take place beginning in March and apply to commercial insurance plans.
Some People Disagree- For Sound Reasons
Although this is seemingly good news, there are those that, understandably, have hesitations about loosening the prescribing regulations. At the end of the day, Suboxone and related drugs are still opiates that carry their own risk of addiction. Loose prescribing practices for drugs such as prescription painkillers are a large part of the problem that started this epidemic, and opponents of these changes say that the prior authorization restrictions help to ensure patients get the right care for them. However, the balance of benefit versus risk is somewhat unclear, and at this point, any step that may help capitalize on an addict’s momentary willingness to make a change in their life seems to be a step in the right direction. Time will tell what, if any, detrimental effects will occur, but it is reassuring to know that more large-scale efforts are being made to provide help to those that need it.
Help is Available
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the professional staff at Serenity Acres is ready to help. Call today for your free confidential assessment, to see if inpatient treatment may be the answer you are looking for: 1-800-203-2024.