The United States is currently experiencing an epidemic of abuse of opioids, including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin. Unlike earlier opioid abuse epidemics, the present crisis is disproportionately affecting white, middle-class people in non-urban settings, including those with private health insurance. FAIR Health, a national, independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to transparency in healthcare costs and health insurance information, consulted its database of over 20 billion privately billed healthcare claims to identify trends and patterns in the epidemic among the nation's privately insured population. Among the findings: (1) Claim lines with an opioid dependence diagnosis rose 3,203 percent from 2007 to 2014; (2) Claim lines with an opioid dependence diagnosis or heroin overdose diagnosis occur overwhelmingly in the age group 19-35 years; (3) Although diagnosed in both men and women, opioid dependence appears more common in men--but the gap narrows in the age group 46-55 years; (4) A less severe condition, opioid abuse, was diagnosed more often in women than men in 2014; (5) In a number of states across the country, opioid dependence is diagnosed more frequently than other substance abuse and dependence diagnoses; and (6) Claim lines with a pregnancy drug dependence diagnosis rose 511 percent from 2007 to 2014, which could be attributable to opioids or other drugs.
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