Prescription Drug Abuse Leads to Higher Health Care Premiums, Fraud Group Says

Medicare and private health insurance companies pass on the cost of prescription drug abuse to consumers in the form of higher premiums, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.

According to a 2007 report by the group, the cost of prescription painkiller abuse for insurers is $72.5 billion. Most of the cost comes from treatment, in the form of visits to the emergency room, rehabilitation, and associated health problems, CNN Money reports. Medicare and health insurance companies also pay for the costs of the drugs themselves. The coalition says the average “doctor shopper”—a person who goes from doctor to doctor collecting prescriptions for the same drugs—costs insurers between $10,000 and $15,000 per year.

A study published in 2011 in the Clinical Journal of Pain found prescription drug abuse led to $42 billion in costs related to lost productivity, as well as $8.2 billion in criminal justice costs.

“There’s no doubt that this is a growing cost to society,” Kevin Sabet, a former senior advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told CNN Money. “We’re in the midst of an epidemic, and it’s really time for America to wake up.”

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    May 13, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    72.5 billion dollars? And that was from 2007. Imagine how ridiculous the cost of prescription drug abuse is now. We need to prevent these drug abusers from getting their unneeded drugs in the first place. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs should be put into place in every state so that doctor shoppers and shady prescribers have nowhere to hide. I’ve made a petition to get all California doctors to join the state’s PDMP, since only 4% of them are participating right now. We can’t let drug abusers and dirty doctors continue to drive up the legitimate healthcare costs for the rest of us. Even if you aren’t from California, anyone who supports this cause can sign my petition at

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    February 27, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    I work for kleantreatmentcenter and we have seen a huge increase in the number of prescription pill addictions. This is becoming a serious public health issue and I’m really not sure what to do about it. This is just another aspect of the problem to consider.

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