Earlier this year we announced an expanded opioid panel for life insurers. This comes at a time where the American workforce is showing the highest positivity rate for illicit drugs in the past 12 years. This epidemic affects people of all ages, race, gender, incomes and educational backgrounds. These are the same individuals who could be applying for life insurance. Insurers should know these seven facts about the use of opioids.
7 facts you need to know about opioids
- Half of Americans (52%) tested in a recent Quest Diagnostics Health Trends study misused their prescription medications. The study also found dangerous drug combinations of opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol are common.
- Since 1990, the number of Americans who have died from opioid overdoses has increased by more than 500%.
- Overall positivity rates for heroin increased 146% between 2011 and 2015 in the general U.S. workforce, according to the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™.
- A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that opioids are shortening the life span of Americans by 2½ months.
- A report from Pacira Pharmaceuticals said middle-aged women (aged 40 to 59 years old) are prescribed more opioids than other groups and twice as many as men in their same age group. Mostly prescribed post-surgery, these group accounts for 3.3 billion unused pills.
- In 2015, more Americans died from opioid overdoses than from car accidents and gun homicides combined.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “sales of prescription opioids nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, but there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain Americans report.”
Despite the growing number of cases involving opioid misuse, insurers can do their part by adding the expanded opioid panel to their laboratory testing. Learn more about what the opioid drug panel offers.