UnitedHealth updates opioid policy

UnitedHealthcare, the health insurance arm of UnitedHealth Group, changed its policy for opioids used to manage pain for oral procedures.

Under the policy, first-time opioid prescriptions written by dental health providers will be capped at three days for patients age 19 and under. The dosage will also be limited to the CDC's recommended less than 50 morphine milligram equivalents per day.

Additionally, UnitedHealthcare will notify dental plan members with dependents ages 16 to 22 about risks associated with opioid prescriptions related to wisdom teeth extraction.

The health insurer has also started notifying dental healthcare providers who are among the top 10 percent of high opioid prescribers in UnitedHealth's network about their prescribing habits. The notifications led to a 17 percent improvement in prescribing patterns.

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