Opioid addiction treatment varies by state: 7 things to know

Medical interventions for opioid-related diagnosis vary by state, according to a new white paper released by Fair Health, a nonprofit provider of health industry cost information.

To assess the regional variations in opioid misuse and addiction treatment, Fair Health researchers analyzed data on privately billed health claims compiled in the nonprofit's database for patients from the country's five most populous cities — Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia — and their respective states, according to the report.

Here are seven things to know.

1. Philadelphia had the largest percentage of opioid-related claim lines of any city compared to its corresponding state.

2. In California, the most common claim procedure codes were for outpatient services and drug tests.

3. Illinois' most common codes included two office visit codes, which made up 41 percent of the distribution. Claims involving naltrexone, which is used to treat opioid dependence, represented 22 percent of the distribution and 71 percent of the expenditures. Group counseling and group psychotherapy rounded out the top five procedure codes for the state. None of these codes ranked among California's top five procedures.

4. New York State's top five procedure codes differed from both California and Illinois. The number one procedure code in New York was the administration of methadone.

5. All of Pennsylvania's top procedure codes consisted of laboratory tests, differing from California, New York and Illinois.

6. Like Pennsylvania, Texas only had laboratory tests in its top five procedures. Contrasting from all the other states, Texas' top five expenditures were all drug tests.

7. "[The variations may] reflect general attitudes, access to the health system and the services most readily available," said Robin Gelburd, president of Fair Health, according to a report from Kaiser Health News. In Texas and elsewhere, Ms. Gelburd said experts should determine whether the rate of drug testing is indicative of these tests "being done too frequently or not enough" and whether treatment for addiction is "focus[ed] too heavily on screening and detection or coupling that screening with intensive therapies."

More articles on opioids: 
Heroin use costs US more than $50B, study suggests 
NYC family physician arrested for prescribing 2.2M oxycodone pills 
Maryland drug overdoses up 66% in 2016: 7 report findings

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