Results Show that Independence Blue Cross is Making Headway in Combating the Opioid Crisis

From News Release:

In conjunction with a national Health of America report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) about opioid use, Independence Blue Cross (Independence) is reporting the success it has achieved in addressing one of nation’s top health crises. The highlights of these results include:

  • Reducing opioid use and prescriptions: Since 2014, Independence has seen a 45 percent reduction in opioid users (45,000 fewer members), a 35 percent reduction in opioid prescriptions (100,000 total), and an 18 percent reduction in the morphine equivalent dose.
  • Changing physician prescribing habits: Independence shares the Centers for Disease Control opioid prescribing guidelines with our network providers. In addition, we gave detailed reports to more than 1,000 prescribing doctors about their patients (our members) who exceeded the recommended morphine equivalent dose. This outreach led to nearly 60 percent of those doctors changing or decreasing their prescribing habits over a six-month period.
  • Limiting initial opioid supplies: In July 2017, Independence became one of the first insurers in the country to restrict first-time, low-dose opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply limit, with an exemption for patients with cancer or terminal illnesses. This policy change resulted in a substantial reduction in opioid use and prescriptions: during the last six months of 2017, the number of members using opioids dropped 22 percent and the number of prescriptions dropped 26 percent compared to the same time period in 2016.

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