Tags: us healthcare system | health insurance | opioid deaths | opioid crisis

US Healthcare System, Health Insurance Contribute to Opioid Deaths

US Healthcare System, Health Insurance Contribute to Opioid Deaths
(Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 28 December 2017 04:48 PM

America's healthcare system and its health insurance market have led to the United States' opioid epidemic, a problem not experienced by other countries, according to a new report.

A recent government report said U.S. deaths related to drug overdoses increased by 21 percent in 2016, which caused the U.S. life expectancy to drop to 78 years and seven months.

The Washington Post took a closer look at the data this week and discovered that U.S. doctors are quick to prescribe opioids and other medicine to treat injuries and illnesses because of how the health insurance market and healthcare system are set up.

The Post reported that 50,000 opioid doses per every million residents are taken every day in the U.S. That figure is six times higher than in France and Portugal, four times higher than what it is in Great Britain, and twice as high as it is in Australia and Denmark.

According to a recent BBC story, the problem partially lies in how health insurance in America works. Most companies will pay for medicine to treat ailments, but fewer are likely to pay for physical therapy. So doctors are quick to write a prescription and move onto the next patient.

"Say you have a patient that's 45 years old. They have lower back pain, you examine them, they have a muscle spasm," West Virginia University School of Medicine professor Judith Feinberg told the BBC.

"Really the best thing is physical therapy, but no one will pay for that. So doctors get very ready to pull out the prescription pad."

The Post noted that drug companies are allowed to advertise on television, with New Zealand being the only other nation in which this practice is allowed. And those same companies often shower doctors with gifts and dinners.

In October, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. He also donated his third quarter salary to a government effort that is trying to combat the epidemic.

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America's healthcare system and its health insurance market have led to the United States' opioid epidemic, a problem not experienced by other countries, according to a new report.
us healthcare system, health insurance, opioid deaths, opioid crisis
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2017-48-28
Thursday, 28 December 2017 04:48 PM
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