A study published April 8th measured the quality of care that people with opioid use disorder (OUD) receive for healthcare unrelated to OUD. It analyzed preventative care, chronic illness treatment, and care coordination in 79,372 insured people with OUD—and for comparison, 46,601 insured people without OUD.
The study used data from OptumLabs Data Warehouse, which contains de-identified claims information from people who are commercially insured or enrolled in Medicare. According to the study authors, “The database contains sociodemographic and longitudinal information regarding inpatient, outpatient, and prescription drug use, representing a diverse mixture of ages, race/ethnicities, and geographic regions across the US.”
The authors analyzed the differences in care between people with OUD and without, as well as demographic differences in quality of care. A difference of more than 5% was considered a “moderate quality gap.”
Overall, care quality was between .5 and 10.2 percentage points lower among those with OUD than those without. In monitoring adherence to statin therapy (the use of cholesterol-lowering medications), care quality was 6.3% lower in those with OUD. For breast cancer screening, it was 10.2 points lower. For hemoglobin A1c testing, 4.9%.
The study also found a difference in mental health care. Mental health follow-up and care coordination was 7.2% lower in people with OUD than in those without.
The demographic difference most commonly associated with reduced quality of care was lower income. For example, care quality for breast cancer screenings in those with OUD who make less than $40,000 a year was 10.2% lower than in those with OUD who make $200,000 or more a year.
As the study authors note, stigma around opioid use disorder could contribute to poorer healthcare. OUD is linked to higher odds of having conditions like diabetes or heart disease, making quality healthcare even more crucial.
The authors recommend expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT)—the use of medications like Suboxone to curb cravings and withdrawal symptoms—in medical and primary care settings; this would improve preventative care and chronic illness treatment.
Other research has found that primary care physicians are adept at providing MAT. Additionally, according to the study authors, “Opioid use disorder treatment requiring engagement with primary care may increase health care contacts that facilitate improved care for other needs.”
If you are struggling with opiod use or a mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. We offer MAT (Suboxone and Vivitrol) to help gradually free you from substances. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.