Opioid use in the United States is at an all-time high, and opioid related deaths are the same. 1 out of 5 patients are prescribed opioid pain relievers in a doctor's office, according to prescribing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This figure does not include cancer-related opioid prescriptions. Not only is a large percentage of the country using opioids for ongoing pain, but it's costing them dearly--in more ways than one.
Opioids and Health Insurance
More and more medical insurance companies are covering costly, name-brand opioid pain medications, instead of alternative and generic drugs. Patients are paying more out-of-pocket with insurance, than without. Patients who have no medical insurance are able to use generic alternatives, coupons, and samples. In many ways, patients are able to try different treatments before settling on an opioid that the insurance company covers first. Talking with your doctor about treatment options for chronic pain is as important as preventative care. Opioids are not the only option, and sometimes they're the worst option.
Opioids and Life Insurance
If you are applying for life insurance, one of the biggest red flags for the life insurance company is the medication list. This information comes directly from your physician and cannot be hidden from the life insurance company. Prolonged treatment with opioid drugs will turn insurance companies off either because of the underlying condition that causes the chronic pain, or because of the risk for health problems and addiction associated with opioid use. If you use prescription opioids for chronic pain management, your condition should justify it. Even then, life insurance companies are on high-alert.
How to Get Insured
Discuss life insurance with your physician. Tell him or her your plans, and ask for help. Most of the factors that turn life insurance companies off can be corrected, or at least improved.
- Update health information and medication lists as often as possible. Take your medications according to the prescription, refill them accordingly, and notify your doctor when you have started or stopped a regular medication (over-the-counter or otherwise) so that your records can be updated.
- Decrease the amount of medications you're on. Many patients end up on multiple medications to treat the side effects of a necessary medication. Talk with your doctor about alternatives that may cause fewer problems and require less meds.
- Do your homework when your doctor prescribes something. Ask questions. If the drug that your doctor recommends has multiple adverse effects, and there is a less risky option, go for the alternative. Adverse side effects raises a red flag to life insurers.
- Do not lie about medications or health conditions when applying for life insurance. Dishonesty on legal forms and applications identifies you as a bigger risk than the medications you're taking!
Obtaining life insurance may be one of your most important decisions. Don't let your health or medication history stand in your way. Talk with your doctor now about what you can do to lower your risk and help you to get life insurance.