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Insurance Companies Addressing Opioid Addiction

Recently, Aetna announced that it will be removing physician’s prior authorization requirement to prescribe medications that lessen patients’ withdrawal symptoms from a previous opioid addiction.  Aetna is not the first insurance company to remove the “prior authorization” requirement, both Anthem and Cigna have also changed the requirement.  The elimination of this waiting period stems from an increased opioid addiction, specifically heroine and painkillers, within the U.S.  In 2015, 33,000 individuals died from opioid overdose.  By changing the “prior authorization” clause, patients trying to overcome an opioid addiction would not have to wait days for approval of a medication that can alleviate the withdrawal symptoms.  Currently, some patients will relapse and return to their drug addiction if the wait time to receive withdrawal medication is too long.  While this removal of the authorization requirement is indicated to be beneficial for patients, the cost of these withdrawal medications is very high, as much as “$500 for a 60-pack dose.”  Other large insurance companies will likely adopt the change within the near future.