With opioid abuse having become a national epidemic, employee benefits plans are using their resources to take on this issue, according to a survey conducted by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Its results found that more than 22 percent of employers have carried out a prescription claims analysis to look for possible abuse.
The IFEBP Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits study also found that another 20 percent of employers considering running a claims analysis. Their goal in running the claims analysis is the same as the employers noted above — to look for instances of possible opioid abuse.
Opioid Abuse Prevention Strategies
Employers have a number of strategies at their disposal to combat the issue of prescription opioid abuse. A common one is to have employees obtain prior authorization of outpatient opioid prescriptions written in excess of a certain number of days. This strategy is currently being used by 43 percent of employers. Other strategies being used by employers to take on the issue of prescription drug abuse are as follows:
• Providing patients with alternative methods to manage pain, thus reducing their dependence on prescription pain medications (17 percent)
• Setting up a fraud tip hotline to receive information about possible prescription pain medication abuse (8 percent)
• Setting up a system where written permission is required from a health care provider before a prescription can be switched from an abuse-deterrent medication to one that doesn’t have this type of property (5 percent)
• Monitoring patient discharges from hospital to look for events that may signal drug abuse (5 percent)
Some employers used more than one of the approaches listed above to help them lower the risk of opioid abuse among their employees. A total of 21 percent of employers surveyed stated they weren’t sure about their plan’s approach to combating this issue and a further 31 percent didn’t use any of the strategies listed above to deal with opioid abuse.
The study surveyed a sample of 344 IFEBP member organizations. These included both private and public employers in Canada and the United States.
Prescription Drug Intervention Help
Millions of people are abusing or have become dependent on their prescription medications. While opioids are generally the biggest culprits, there are other drugs with a very high potential for abuse.
We work with families all over the country every day who have loved ones with prescription drug problems. We provide successful interventions, family consulting and referrals to top-notch treatment facilities.