Few people with private insurance who are treated in the emergency room for an opioid overdose receive follow-up addiction treatment, a new study finds. The problem is especially severe for black patients, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied records from a large private health insurance company. Among 6,500 patients treated for an opioid overdose between 2011 and 2016, less than 17% received follow-up treatment. Among those who did receive follow-up treatment, less than half received medication-assisted treatment, considered the gold standard of care.
Black patients were half as likely as white patients to receive follow-up treatment.
“The [emergency room] encounter has been seen as a critical opportunity to engage a patient and connect them to the right care that gives them the best chance for recovery,” researcher Austin Kilaru, M.D. said in a news release. “However, even with commercially insured patients, who likely have superior ability to access care, we see these low treatment rates, particularly for minorities.”