Costs and Work Loss Burden of Diagnosed Opioid Abuse Among Employees on Workers Compensation or Short-term Disability

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Abstract

Objective:

To compare 12-month healthcare costs between employees with versus without diagnosed opioid abuse within 12 months after an injury-related workers’ compensation (WC) or short-term disability (STD) claim.

Methods:

Retrospective study using 2003 to 2014 US insurance claims linked to administrative data on WC/STD claims. Multivariable models compared healthcare costs between employees with versus without diagnosed opioid abuse.

Results:

Study included 107,975 opioid-treated employees with an injury-related WC or STD claim. Mean number of opioid prescription fills and adjusted total healthcare costs were substantially greater in employees with diagnosed opioid abuse versus without (WC: 13.4 vs. 4.5, P < 0.001; $18,073 vs. $8470, P < 0.001; STD: 13.7 vs. 4.5, P < 0.001; $25,693 vs. $14,939, P < 0.001).

Conclusion:

Opioids are commonly prescribed to employees with injury-related WC/STD claims. Employers may benefit from proactively addressing the issue of opioid abuse in these populations.

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