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    Tuning in to local or national news often results in a story pertaining to the opioid crisis or epidemic currently sweeping across the United States. It’s difficult not to happen upon various conversations or read articles about opioids today due to the rising awareness of problems that can occur with these prescription drugs. Any topic that is highly debated on this scale also tends to attract myths or misinformed communications. It is critical that your insurance company understands some of the common myths and what the facts really are in order to help prevent opioid misuse and abuse with your claimants.


    A common thought among many seems to be that opioid abuse is not as widespread as some might think. In fact, there are studies and statistics that refute this myth. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) posted an article (revised in January 2019) with an array of facts and numbers pertaining to the percentages of prescriptions that are misused. This article states that up to 29% of people who obtained a prescription for an opioid due to long-term pain issues misuse the prescription.


    This same article cites sources that estimate up to 12% of people with these prescriptions end up with an “opioid use disorder.” This may seem like a smaller number which could contribute to the myths that proclaim opioid abuse is not widespread. However, the increased costs that stem from these situations are staggering. The numbers from NIDA’s online article show that the misuse of opioids costs $78.5 billion each year. It is clear from these figures that opioid misuse is not a small problem with low financial repercussions.


    One other myth seems to be that the majority of us aren’t able to do anything to help combat this crisis. While the impact of an individual may be relatively small, your insurance company can in fact help by partnering with Northwood as your third-party administrator (TPA). Northwood is committed to fighting the opioid epidemic through a variety of processes designed to help prevent the misuse or abuse from ever occurring.


    Northwood steps in as a TPA of automobile no-fault claims to ensure that prescriptions for your claimants are injury related and appropriate. Northwood also monitors the frequency of refilled prescriptions; if an opioid prescription is filled too frequently, the refill is blocked until Northwood communicates with the adjuster assigned to the claim to determine if the refill is necessary. Your claimants will appreciate having a partner that cares which reflects directly on your company.


    To examine the ways you can combat opioid misuse while holding down your company’s claims costs and delighting your claimants, please contact Rosanne Brugnoni at 586-755-3830 ext. 3771.


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