For the last three years, the coronavirus pandemic has dominated health headlines, but there is a second health crisis happening in America. Our team of analysts found that drug overdose deaths have risen more than 50% since 2019, and are now approaching 110,000 a year.
- Nationwide, 107,477 people died of an overdose in the last 12 months.
- Maine, Oklahoma and New Hampshire have seen the largest increases in overdose deaths over the last year.
- South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa have the highest rates of overdose deaths.
- Combined, opioids account for nearly 70% of overdose deaths.
The increase in overdose-related deaths has impacted each state differently. Maine, Oklahoma and New Hampshire have seen overdose deaths increase by more than 20%, while West Virginia and Maryland have seen deaths decline by as much as 30% in the last year. South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa have the highest overall rates of overdose deaths.
|State||Overdose deaths in the last year||% change in overdose deaths|
Overdose deaths over time
Opioid deaths have increased dramatically since 2015. There were 52,000 overdose-related deaths in 2015, compared to 107,000 in the last 12 months. The biggest increase in overdose deaths came at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Between 2019 and 2020, overdose deaths increased 30%.
Opioids are the leading cause of overdose deaths. Since 2015, opioids have accounted for nearly 80,000 deaths, or 34% of all drug overdoses. If we factor in synthetic, natural and semi-synthetic opioids, then the number of opioid-related deaths since 2015 rises to 160,000 — 70% of all overdose deaths.
The dramatic rise in opioid-related overdose deaths hasn’t gone unnoticed. President Joseph R. Biden unveiled a five-part plan to address the growing number of overdose deaths. One key component of the plan is a $125 billion expansion of prevention, treatment and recovery services. Health care coverage varies by state, but most health insurance plans cover substance abuse treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please consult the resource below.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- 1-800-662-4357 (HELP)
- SAMHSA Hotline Website
Will my health insurance cover substance abuse treatment?
Substance abuse is a serious issue that affects many Americans. Fortunately, getting insurance to cover the cost of substance abuse treatment is becoming easier than ever.
In the past, insurance companies offered little or no coverage for substance abuse treatment. Luckily, a law that took effect in 2010 changed all that.
Obamacare offers ways to connect people who want to buy health insurance with companies that sell it. Insurance companies that want to be part of the ACA Marketplace must cover 10 important health issues. These include mental health and addictions.
In addition, all state Medicaid programs must offer mental health care. Some of them also offer substance abuse help. Insurance companies that choose not to be part of the ACA Marketplace often cover addiction treatment as well.
Types of substance abuse treatment
Types of drug abuse care that insurance might cover are:
- Inpatient care at an approved facility
- Outpatient care from an approved provider
- Medical detoxification medicines and treatment
- Individual or group counseling
- Maintenance medications
In-network and out-of-network
Insurance companies often have special connections with certain providers. These connections are the difference between "in-network" and "out-of-network" providers.
The difference usually has an effect on how much you pay and how much coverage your plan offers. Whether a therapist is in or out of the network might limit the number of counseling sessions your insurance pays for.
In-network providers are your best option when it comes to cost. If you aren't sure if a doctor or clinic is in-network, it's a good idea to call your insurance company.
The insurance company phone number is usually on the back of your insurance card. Ask them for the "summary plan description" and "summary of benefits and coverage" sheets for your plan. This information might also be available on the internet.
You could also ask the provider if they know which services are covered. This can save you a lot of time, money and worry.
If your health plan won't pay for a certain service that you need, you can appeal a denied claim. That means you can ask the insurance company to take another look at their decision not to pay. They might change their decision. This is a legal right. Call your health plan and ask how to submit an appeal.
Will my insurance company pay for an Antabuse prescription?
If you have insurance, it's very likely that your health plan will pay for Antabuse, an FDA-approved drug used to treat alcohol dependence. You will still have to pay a copay. Using a mail-based pharmacy service can save you some money on copayments.
Medicare also pays for Antabuse and a number of other medicines that treat substance abuse.
Are you uninsured? The nonprofit organization NeedyMeds might be able to help you get Antabuse or other medicines for little or no cost.
Overdose death statistics were compiled using data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data was then broken down on a state-by-state and year-over-year basis.
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