The increased abuse of powerful narcotic painkillers is taking a toll on Americans and our economy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 130 Americans die each day from opioid overdose, with 40 percent of those deaths associated with the misuse or abuse of a prescription drug. The economic impact of this ongoing crisis exceeds $78 billion annually.
The federal government has been active in monitoring this crisis, enacting legislation and implementing programs to address the opioid epidemic. In 2018, 28 separate congressional bills were passed, to include legislation that promotes research to find non-addictive solutions for pain management. Additional legislation expands access to treatment for substance use disorders. The federal government will spend $6 billion for opioid programs over the next two years.
Last year, the Justice Department announced their largest ever crackdown on healthcare fraud. This effort was linked to the over-prescription of opioids, which saw insurance companies being defrauded of more than $2 billion. Internal data points to a rise in potentially fraudulent claims being generated in major states like California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas.
Beyond these figures are the tangential associated costs rising from the nexus between opioid abuse and crime. For decades, law enforcement has recognized that drug abuse and addiction drive a large percentage of crime - particularly property crimes like burglaries and vehicle thefts. As the opioid crisis worsens, public awareness to this specific issue has grown, as more news stories highlight the link between addiction and crime. The crime, in turn, has direct effects on the insurance industry.
The opioid epidemic presents a widespread, multifaceted, and devastating cost to the American people. It is in the interest of the NICB, our insurance partners, our law enforcement brethren, and the citizens of this country to make significant and lasting impacts in combating this crisis. The abuse of prescription medication has a tremendous cost to us all, and we must remain committed to fighting opioid dependence, addiction, and fraud.
President & CEO