Insurance Claims For Opioid Abuse Up 329 Percent In Chicago

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Private insurance claims related to opioid abuse are skyrocketing in Illinois.

Claims for opioid abuse and dependence diagnoses increased by 329 percent in Illinois from 2007 to 2014 alone, according to data released Wednesday by Fair Health. In fact, opioid-related claims jumped by 382 percent in Chicago alone.

While Chicago’s figures present a stark contrast between that of the rest of the state, the reality is not as severe as the numbers portray. The city’s claims did increase at a faster rate than the state of Illinois, but, based on population, the city’s proportion of opioid-related claims is much smaller than the state’s.

The contrast between urban and rural abuse rates on display in Illinois mimic the trends in other parts of the nations, like New York. Chicago represents just over 20 percent of the state’s population, but only 14 percent of its insurance claims relating to opioid abuse. Similarly, New York City comprises some 43 percent of the state’s population, but only 13 percent of its opioid claims.

The rise in opioid use is directly correlated with the uptick in heroin abuse in the U.S. Patients get prescribed opioids for long-term pain management, and their prescriptions become more and more expensive over time. To cut costs, patients switch to a much cheaper option available without a prescription: heroin.

Heroin use in the U.S. has risen five-fold over the past decade, with dependence rates more than tripling during that same period. Caucasians ages 14 to 44 account for the biggest increase in heroin addiction, with non-married adults comprising the largest portion of that group.

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