Toolkit is part of larger initiative, which is reducing reliance on opioids in connection to dental care
UnitedHealthcare has expanded its efforts to help address the connection between dental care and the opioid epidemic, introducing a public toolkit with information to help support oral health care professionals and patients, especially after wisdom-teeth removal for teens and young adults.
The toolkit — available here — provides information for oral health professionals and all consumers, including an educational flyer with commonly asked questions related to opioids and a checklist to help people better understand pain-management options before and after wisdom-teeth removal.
The toolkit builds upon a companywide approach to address the epidemic from all angles, including dental care. This comprehensive approach includes a pharmacy policy, outreach to dental health professionals and plan participants, along with TV and radio public service announcements (PSAs).
Taken together, these efforts to date have resulted in an 89% reduction in opioid prescriptions above federal guidelines written by network dental health professionals for UnitedHealthcare dental plan participants age 19 and under.1
“Confronting the opioid epidemic requires a comprehensive approach involving multiple stakeholders across the health care system, including addressing the often overlooked connection with dental care,” said Tom Wiffler, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits. “Working together, these initiatives are making a meaningful difference in helping address this important national public health issue.”
The opioid epidemic causes more than 130 overdose deaths2 each day, while the economic cost exceeds $500 billion annually, according to a study from The Council of Economic Advisors. In addition, oral health professionals write 12% of all opioid prescriptions, including more than 54% of opioid prescriptions for adolescents3 – an age group especially vulnerable to addiction.4
UnitedHealthcare’s comprehensive approach to combatting opioid use related to dental care also includes:
UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, is also collaborating with health care providers and communities and using powerful data and analytics to prevent opioid misuse and addiction, tailor ways to treat people who are addicted and support long-term recovery.
Learn more about what UnitedHealthcare is doing to address the opioid epidemic.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.3 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.
1 UnitedHealthcare pharmacy claims analysis, 2019
2 2 CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality. CDC Wonder, Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2018. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
3 UnitedHealthcare pharmacy claims analysis representing more than 3 million claims, 2019
4 February 2019, 143 (2) e20182752; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-2752