Patients who are living with an opioid addiction and want to get help shouldn’t be denied access to treatment by their health insurance providers. This statement was one of the new policy recommendations co-authored by Professor Claudio Nigg, from the Office of Public Health Studies, University of Hawaii at Mānoa.
Lack of Full Coverage for Addiction Treatment a Barrier
The most likely reason people who want, but don’t get, addiction treatment is that government and private insurance policies don’t cover the cost of getting help, according to a statement posted June 27, 2018, on the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s website.
Professor Nigg explained, “To fight the opioid addiction epidemic that is ravaging the US today, policymakers need to increase Medicaid funding for addiction treatment and declare the opioid epidemic to be a national emergency, and not just a public health emergency.”
On a typical day in the United States, 3,900 people start taking a prescription opioid medication for non-medical reasons. Dozens of people die each day from an opioid overdose. In 2016, 77 people died from an opioid overdose in Hawaii, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Medication-Based Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Research has shown that medication-based treatment (MAT) is one approach for clients living with opioid addiction. It includes two components: clients take medication to decrease cravings for drugs (such as oxycodone, morphine and heroin), as well as attend behavioral modification therapy (“talk therapy”), which helps them change their thinking and actions.
Funding for Counseling Needed Along with Medications
Professor Nigg points out that while many insurance programs will pay for the medication, getting funding for counseling is much more difficult. He points out that people need the talk therapy, not just the medications to be treated properly for their addiction.
Nigg is an expert in the behavioral health science field. He has studied theories of behavioral change throughout his career and has conducted research on the motivations for people to take part in healthier living strategies.