Opioid Crisis among Insured Working Population

Monday, June 11, 2018: 10:20 AM
1000 - First Floor (Rollins School of Public Health)

Author(s): Chao Zhou; Haizhen Lin

Discussant: Alex Hollingsworth

Opioid epidemic has been declared a public health emergency (White House, 2017). The rapid increase in opioid prescribing has taken a substantial toll in terms of cost, health, and lives. Working age population is the most hardly hit demographics (CDC 2014). Various policy initiatives have been proposed to address the opioid epidemic, but a gap in the literature exists to better understand the socioeconomic roots of opioid prescribing among working population. We offer one of the first studies using individual claims data to study opioid usage among insured working population and its impact on health outcomes such as substance abuse, suicide, alcohol abuse, and obesity.

Our main data source is the HCCI data, which includes health care claims of approximately 50 million insureds per year (from three large national insurers). Using the HCCI data from 2008-2015, we construct a unique panel data set to empirically test the association and causality between individual opioid prescribing and local economic conditions, including median household income, unemployment rate, and Gini index. Preliminary evidence suggest that enrollees with potentially high-risk opioid prescriptions were more likely to reside in low-income, high-unemployment, and economically-homogenous counties outside inner cities.