National Insurance Crime Bureau

President’s Message - Easing the Pain of Medical Fraud

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.

Joe Wehrle

President & CEO

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, learning and development, government affairs and public affairs. The NICB is supported by more than 1,300 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote over $496 billion in insurance premiums in 2018, or more than 81% of the nation's property-casualty insurance. That includes more than 92% ($254 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.