Opiate addiction treatment costs have increased 1,000 percent in last 5 years

Posted at 6:01 PM, Sep 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-17 00:41:10-04

CINCINNATI -- Stephanie Isaac was 22 years old when she started using drugs, and it was only a matter of time before she started using heroin.

Isaac, now 35, has been clean for several years, but she needed help getting there.

“I couldn't do it on my own,” Isaac said. “I was forced to do it. I caught a charge, and I went to jail and I was sent to treatment.”

While taxpayers are picking up the cost for treatment in some circumstances, many have turned to insurance companies. Opiate addiction treatment costs have increased 1,000 percent in the last five years, according to a report from Fair Health.

In 2015, the average cost for opioid dependence treatment was $19,000 compared to $3,400 for people without the disorder.

Healthcare underwriter John McConnaughey said this could mean rate hikes for everyone.

“It's going to have some effect,” McConnaughey said. “I mean if you have such high increases in treatment and the insurance companies are spending a lot more money, they get their money from premiums.”

Isaac said she is okay with that.

“The more people that get into treatment and start treating their addictions... I'm more than willing to pay a little more extra,” Isaac said.

Sandra Kuehn, president and CEO of Center for Addiction Treatment, said some of that is due to requirements to treat the physical and mental aspects of addiction.

“These numbers are only going to go up again because of the number of people who are sharing needles and Hep C becomes a real issue,” Kuehn said.

The center is a non-profit and doesn’t deal much with insurance, but Kuehn knows detox and residential treatment can be expensive.

“At CAT [Center for Addiction Treatment] a 28-day stay here is about $5,000,” Kuehn said. “A 28-day stay in a for-profit is going to be between $30,000 and $40,000 and that's just locally.”

This comes as the Justice Department is putting pressure on Congress for more treatment funding and on law enforcement to share more information across state lines to stop trafficking.