Anthem aims for 30% reduction in number of opioid prescriptions by 2019

Indianapolis-based Anthem said it wants to reduce the amount of opioids prescribed to policyholders by 30 percent by the end of 2019.

The insurer said in a Wednesday news release it is also committed to helping its affiliated health plans double the number of consumers who receive counseling as part of medication-assisted therapy for opioid addiction.

The insurer said internal research found that of its policyholders who received buprenorphine — a medication designed to curb opioid addiction — only 16 percent to 19 percent of members participated in recommended in-person counseling.

"Making improvements with coordination and integration of medical and behavioral healthcare is an important factor to consider in efforts to mitigate these medical risks," Craig Samitt, MD, Anthem chief clinical officer, said in the release. "Health insurers can and should play a strong role in making changes to improve the lives of their members."

Anthem said the aggressive goals are the product of Anthem medical directors, nurses, pharmacists, care managers and benefits experts reexamining policies over the last year. 

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