“Every day, headlines detail the casualties of the nation’s surge in heroin and prescription painkiller abuse: the funerals, the broken families and the patients cycling in and out of treatment. Now, a new study sheds light on another repercussion — how this public health problem is adding to the nation’s ballooning health care costs and who’s shouldering that burden.
Published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, the study measures how many people were hospitalized between 2002 and 2012 because they were abusing heroin or prescription painkillers, and how many of them got serious infections related to their drug use. It also tracks what hospitals charged to treat those patients and how the hospitals were paid.
The findings? Hospitalizations related to use and dependence on opioids have skyrocketed, from about 302,000 in 2002 to about 520,000 a decade later. During the same time period, the number of these patients who had dangerous infections, like endocarditis or septic arthritis, increased from about 3,400 to 6,535. Those tallies are likely higher now, given the continued growth in opioid abuse, said Matthew Ronan, a hospitalist at the Veterans Health Administration in Boston, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and the study’s primary author.
Meanwhile, those same patients are becoming more expensive to treat. Hospitals charged almost $15 billion in 2012 for opioid-related inpatient care — more than double what they billed in 2002, even after accounting for inflation. More than $700 million of that went to treating patients with the associated infections. And many were uninsured or on Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people.”
Source: KaiserHealthNews.org – May 2, 2016