Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
Every 13 minutes in the United States, a person dies from an opioid overdose.1 More than 2 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid painkillers.2 Because opioids are highly addictive, anyone who takes them can be at risk.
UnitedHealth Group is addressing the crisis. We are applying and coordinating capabilities, data and efforts across our companies, which span the spectrum of health services.
UnitedHealth Group is taking a uniquely comprehensive approach to this complex crisis.
PREVENT opioid addiction
We are leveraging our data analytics capabilities to help minimize exposure to opioids and stop misuse before it starts by:
- Improving adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for opioid painkillers4.
- Working to keep opioids in the hands of the people they’re prescribed for by watching for potentially fraudulent activities like prescription reselling and false medical claims.
TREAT opioid addiction as a chronic medical condition
We promote evidence-based treatment that gives individuals the best chance for recovery:
- Expanding access to evidence-based care nearby through the nation’s largest medication-assisted treatment (MAT) network. By combining medications with personalized counseling and support, MAT offers substantially higher likelihood of success.
- 90 percent of our members are within 20 miles of a MAT provider5.
SUPPORT long-term recovery
Opioid use disorder requires lifelong attention. We are committed to supporting individuals in their recovery and helping communities heal by:
- Connecting people to local resources, peer support specialists, and web and mobile tools. These approaches can provide encouragement and help people manage triggers and cravings.
- Using advanced data analytics to monitor for dangerous prescribing and use patterns, helping doctors and pharmacists know to reach out to individuals who may need extra support.
- Working with care providers and others in local communities to drive change through market-specific initiatives.
1. National Opioids Crisis. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/
2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioid Overdose Crisis. Updated January 2018. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis#five
3. The Council of Economic Advisors. The Underestimated Cost of the Opioid Crisis. November 2017. Available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/The%20Underestimated%20Cost%20of%20the%20Opioid%20Crisis.pdf
4. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6501e1.htm?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fmmwr%2Fvolumes%2F65%2Frr%2Frr6501e1er.htm
5. K. Cox. Data from Optum geo access reports for Commercial membership. 4/24/18.