As the region’s largest health insurer, Independence Blue Cross (Independence) has an unwavering commitment to serve and inspire our members and our communities and to advocate for their well-being. We take substance abuse very seriously and have many initiatives and programs to help prevent substance use disorder.
Independence already restricts the quantity of opioids a physician can prescribe. However, beginning in July 2017, we will further restrict prescriptions to no more than five days for initial low dose opioids. We will continue to cover longer lengths of opioid prescription use for members suffering from cancer related pain and hospice patients. This safeguard prevents multiple opioid prescriptions from being filled at different pharmacies and reduces the risk for addiction while addressing legitimate pain treatment. It also reduces the risk of unused medication being diverted into the hands of unintended users. In addition, in August, we will provide coverage for methadone treatment.
We regularly promote new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) prescribing guidelines and safe practices to doctors. In fact, after providing more than 1,250 of our network doctors a list of patients who were prescribed more than the CDC-recommended doses of opioids, nearly 60 percent of those physicians stopped inappropriate prescribing. Since 2014, Independence has reduced inappropriate opioid use among members by nearly 30 percent.