Florida Blue halts coverage of OxyContin
In an effort to fight the opioid epidemic, Florida’s largest health insurance company will stop covering the costs of OxyContin or oxycodone prescriptions.
“We are supportive of the new policy and hope these changes can help reduce the abuse of prescription opioids across the state,” says Ellsworth Buck, Vice President of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s largest independent health care insurance agency. GreatFlorida Insurance offers health insurance through Florida Blue.
Beginning January 1, 2018, Florida Blue will alternatively cover Xtampza ER. An extended-release version of oxycodone, Xtampza ER is considered an abuse deterrent. Resisting crushing and breaking, it cannot be snorted or smoked.
The Miami Herald reports, under the new policy, Florida Blue will drop coverage of OxyContin for all group and individual health insurance plans except Medicare Advantage plans. The health insurance company is looking to reduce the abundance of opioids prescribed to its more than 5 million members, restricting the risk for abuse of the powerful but addictive drug.
Florida Blue’s change in policy is a follow-up to its 2015 policy that requires prior authorization for all oxycodone prescriptions of more than seven days. The company says, that policy led to a 20 percent reduction in the use of long-term opioids by members.
“In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic pain resulting in abuse and overdoses,” says Buck of GreatFlorida Insurance, Florida’s top independent health care insurance company.
The Miami Herald reports opioids killed 2,538 Floridians and contributed to an additional 1,358 deaths in 2015.
Common prescription opioids include; oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine and methadone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC explains, “Prescription opioids are used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury or for health conditions such as cancer.”
In May of this year, Gov. Rick Scott declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency allowing the state access to over $54 million in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant money to pay for prevention, treatment and recovery services. He also is moving forward to allow the distribution of the anti-overdose treatment Naloxone to first responders.