In 2012, the entire US opioid market was $8.34 billion.
Workers’ comp paid about 17% of that bill.
One of every six opioid dollars was spent by the work comp industry.
That’s a stunning statistic.
Recall that workers’ comp medical expenses account for about 1.5% of total US medical spend. Sure, there’s a lot of pain in comp – but there’s a lot of pain in non-comp diagnoses as well. Chronic non-cancer pain, end-of-life pain treatment, cancer-related pain, acute injuries, surgical recovery, dental procedures can all result in opioid prescriptions.
But few group health patients get opioids for non-skeletal back pain.
What does this mean for you?
We’ve accomplished a good deal in reducing inappropriate prescribing of opioids to comp patients.
But we have very, very far to go. This is NOT the time to rest on our rather meager laurels.