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Fein: Better Treatments for Opioid Addiction

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The opioid epidemic is a moral hazard of existential proportions — a test of the moral health of the insurance industry in which the question is, will insurers acknowledge the severity of this threat by subsidizing better ways to treat it?

Lewis Fein

Lewis Fein

Will insurers accept what patients concede, and even cynics confess, that specific treatments for opioid addiction outside the U.S. are more effective than the many but mostly unsuccessful treatment options in the U.S.?

Will insurers admit that it is more expensive to cover what does not work than it is to underwrite what returns people — healthy and strong — to the workforce?

To ask these questions is to know that it is smarter to ensure domestic tranquility by experiencing it abroad, that it is easier to promote the general welfare by supporting programs that lessen dependency on welfare, not because these programs are wrong, but because it is wrong to abandon tens of millions of people — including mothers and military veterans — to short, nasty and brutish lives of addiction.

The answers to these questions are available to all.

The answers, thanks to my correspondence with staffers at Clear Sky Recovery, raise the ultimate question of whether we will exist half-slave or half-free, whether we will succumb to the ravages of opioid addiction or avoid this descent altogether, whether we will cause our health to worsen or rally to the cause of health and wellness.

What I ask of insurers is no different than what insurers should ask of themselves: help.

Let us be unafraid to seek help.

Let us also be aware that help is achievable, that help is available, that help is accessible.

Let us free ourselves from the false promises of what is a racket rather than a legitimate means of rehabilitation, what with the bombardment of ads and commercials, what with the inundation of junk mail and junk science — an audiovisual overdose of empty words and meaningless slogans.

Let us wake up to the reality of this situation, that we face a do-or-die decision — a dire choice, indeed.

Either we do what is necessary, either we do what is right, or we plead guilty to the fast death of minds and the slow loss of bodies — a sight too painful to witness but too profound to ignore, a sight too traumatic to forget but sometimes too awful to recall.

Either we unite against opioid addiction, or we allow our divisions to destroy us.

Either we encourage patients to get treatment abroad, or we stop demanding that insurers pay for treatment whose efficacy is questionable and whose rate of failure is so high as to be unquestionable.

We must choose what is just, in lieu of what is popular or convenient. That standard should determine not only treatment for opioid addiction but how insurers treat all matters of health and wellness.

With truth as our guide, we can stop the advance of opioid addiction. With insurers on our side, we can win this war.

Lewis Fein is an independent writer who covers law and public policy. This blog post is reprinted by permission from InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com.

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