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AHRQ Study: Out-of-Pocket Prescription Expenses To Treat Opioid Use Disorders Are High

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Patients with retail medications to treat opioid use disorders spent on average 3.4 times more for out-of-pocket prescriptions than the rest of the U.S. population, according to an AHRQ-study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 

Researchers used 2011-2017 data from AHRQ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to estimate the financial costs faced by the population receiving buprenorphine or naltrexone, the two most common medications available from retail pharmacies to treat opioid use disorders. They found that about 19 percent of patients paid entirely out of pocket for their retail prescriptions for opioid use disorders. In addition, out-of-pocket expenses on office visits for patients being treated for opioid use disorders cost an average of $587.09 per year, which is 3.5 times higher than for the rest of the population. Researchers concluded that future policies that expand insurance and address out-of-pocket spending could increase access to treatment, which also includes office visits and other expenses, for patients with opioid use disorders.

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