Cost of US opioid crisis exceeds $1T since 2001: 3 insights

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

The nation's ongoing opioid overdose and addiction crisis cost the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion from 2001 to 2017. The epidemic is poised to cost the nation an additional $500 billion by 2020, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the healthcare research and consulting organization Altarum.

For the analysis, researchers examined data compiled by multiple sources to determine the direct costs related to the U.S.'s opioid crisis response, such as law enforcement costs, and lost earnings attributable to opioid deaths and addiction.

Here are three analysis insights.

1. The annual economic burden of the opioid epidemic surged from $29.1 billion in 2001 to an estimated $115 billion in 2017.

2. The greatest cost was associated with lost earnings and productivity from overdose deaths. Researchers estimated this cost the U.S. $800,000 per person based on the average age — 41 years — of overdose victims.

3. The healthcare system incurred more than $215.7 billion in costs related to the opioid crisis from 2001 to 2017. The costs were largely attributable to overdose-related emergency department visits. Since Medicaid expansion in 2014, the number of uninsured overdose patients has fallen, but overdose-related healthcare costs have risen.

To view the full report, click here.

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