drugs of abuse

cigarette and marijuana smoking

Smoking raises red flags for insurers across the board – applicants are usually rated if they produce a positive cotinine test. Further, tobacco use can lead to the potential onset of additional health risks, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and/or lung diseases. Aside from these health concerns, studies show a correlation of tobacco use and marijuana use. Statistics also reveal an increased risk of positivity for other drugs of abuse.

The likelihood of a tobacco user testing positive for marijuana

Our data scientist, Brian Lanzrath, extracted a sample of ExamOne applicant data to identify what, if any, correlation exists between the use of tobacco and marijuana. From 2017-2018, nearly 6.6% of ExamOne life insurance applicants tested positive for cotinine. You can see the states with the highest cotinine positivity rates on this map with Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas and Mississippi being among the five highest. Within each of those states, the positivity of those who tested positive for both THC and cotinine is as follows:

cotinine positivity by state

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, tobacco users are nearly 5 times as likely to test positive for THC as non-tobacco users.

Study finds tobacco users 25x more likely to test positive for PCP

Brian also discovered tobacco users were 5x more likely than non-tobacco users to test positive for methadone, PCP and cocaine. Further, marijuana users were nearly 25x more likely than non-marijuana users to test positive for PCP. They were also 15x more likely to test positive for cocaine and 10x more likely to test positive for methamphetamines. As the opioid epidemic continues to spread, it’s important for insurers to be diligent in their testing requirements. Laboratory expert, Betsy Sears, says as a result of the compelling data, there is a growing interest among carriers in using cotinine as a reflex for drug/expanded opioid screens.

Underwriting with precision

It’s important to understand that a positive cotinine test could mean more for insurers. Not only could it mean the applicant is at high risk for multiple health conditions, there is an increased risk the applicant could be misusing other substances that increase mortality. Navigate through the smoke by ensuring you are receiving a complete profile of your applicants.

To review your parameters, discuss reflex testing or to complete an analysis on your applicants, please contact us.

2018 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™

The 2018 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ (DTI) has been released and workforce drug positivity remained at the highest rate we’ve seen in a decade. The positivity rate held steady at 4.2 percent which was the same in 2016. One of the biggest shifts in drug positivity was seen in the cocaine and amphetamine classes. Positivity rates for each of these drugs skyrocketed in some areas of the country. The overall positivity for cocaine increased seven percent from 2016. As these positivity rates rise, what is the prevalence of life insurance drug abuse positivity rates?

An increase in drug positivity also prevalent in life insurance population

Our data analytic experts have done their own analysis on life insurance drug abuse positivity and they aren’t far off from the workforce positivity rates. Cocaine, which had a 0.30 positivity rate among the American workforce in 2017, had a 0.18 positivity rate within the life insurance population. Further, amphetamines which had a 1.10 positivity rate in the workforce similarly showed a 1.02 positivity rate in the life insurance subset.

Additionally, as we see marijuana being legalized in more and more states, positivity rates are rising. Marijuana positivity for the workforce was 2.10, but in life insurance it nearly doubled to 4.10.

life insurance drug abuse positivity

Understanding the prevalence of drug positivity among the American workforce should be an eye opener for insurers. This epidemic is affecting people of all walks of life, including those who work, who have families and who apply for life insurance. Take a look at this interactive map to see where some of the highest overall drug positivity is, as well as by individual drug class.

Misuse of these drugs can cause premature death and can cost insurance companies a significant amount of money, if it goes undetected during the underwriting process. If you would like to learn more about adding a drug panel to your laboratory requirements, please contact your Strategic Account Executive, or call us at 913.859.6992.

Top 4 blog posts from 2017

February 8, 2018 Uncategorized

Here’s a look back on our top four blog posts of 2017. As our industry continues to evolve, will these be the same topics top of mind this year, or will there be totally new trends for 2018? Follow our blog as we discover and address them this year. We are excited to learn more […]

Read the full article →

Illicit drug use in the US is at the highest rate in a decade

June 26, 2017 Carriers

Quest Diagnostics released its annual Drug Testing IndexTM in May.(1,2)  It revealed that the American workforce had the highest positivity rate for illicit drugs in the past 12 years. Cocaine continued its upward trend for the fourth consecutive year. Marijuana positivity increased dramatically with notable increases in Colorado and Washington, both states that have legalized […]

Read the full article →

Prescription Drug Misuse In America

July 22, 2014 Carriers

The abuse of prescription painkillers and narcotics has grown into a bonafide public health crisis, affecting virtually every state, city and small town in the United States.[1] Nearly half of the roughly 40,000 drug overdose deaths in 2010 involved pain medications, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.[2] Approximately 2.1 million people are dependent upon or abusing […]

Read the full article →