Insurers Declare Addiction Deserves the Same Urgency and Respect as Cancer
The nation’s largest insurers issued a statement last week that addiction deserves the same urgency and respect as cancer or diabetes, and should be treated as a chronic disease requiring long-term treatment and monitoring. 16 health insurers covering 248 million people adopted 8 principles of care and said they would use their purchasing power to reward proven, evidence-based treatments, a step that could improve the quality of care available. UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Cigna and WellCare, all national companies were among the endorsing companies. The eight core principles the insurers supported were derived from the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2016 report on alcohol, drugs and health. These core principles are also providing the foundation for the work being done by Shatterproof’s Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force to create a universal standard of care for addiction.
Source: USA Today
- Routine screenings in every medical setting: During check-ups and in the ER, from pediatric to geriatric care-screenings for an SUD should be as common as measuring blood pressure.
- A personal plan for every patient: One size doesn’t fit all. Treatment must consider unique social, mental, biological, and environmental needs-with frequent check-ins and adjustments.
- Fast access to treatment: Addiction alters brain chemistry. So when an individual is able to seek treatment, that moment must be seized.
- Disease management, rather than 28 days: While inpatient treatment may be appropriate for some based on disease severity, this isn’t the best option for all. And it’s not enough for sustained success. Long-term outpatient care is key to recovery.
- Coordinated care for every illness: Many people with addiction also suffer from other mental or physical disorders. Treatment for all illnesses should be coordinated and integrated into the SUD treatment plan.
- Behavioral health care from legitimate providers: Behavioral interventions help individuals manage their disease and sustain recovery – and should be offered by properly trained, accredited, and well-supervised providers.
- Medication-assisted treatment: Just like with any other chronic disease, medication is appropriate for treating some addictions. It should be destigmatized and easily accessible.
- Support for recovery outside the doctor’s office: Recovery requires emotional and practical support from family members, the community, and peer groups.