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Opioid Overdoses Cost U.S. Hospitals $11B Annually

Opioid overdoses are expensive, both in terms of dollars and lives. A recent analysis by Premier Inc., a healthcare improvement company, found that total care for patients who experienced an opioid overdose resulted in $1.94 billion in annual hospital costs across 647 healthcare facilities nationwide. These costs were concentrated among nearly 100,000 opioid overdose patients with nearly 430,000 total visits across emergency department (ED), inpatient, and other care settings.

By extrapolating the cost trends Premier identified in its analysis, the total added costs to the U.S. healthcare system are estimated to amount to $11.3 billion annually, or 1% of all hospital expenditures. According to Premier, 80% of the patients were either insured by public programs (33% Medicare and 33% Medicaid) or uninsured, meaning that $7.4 billion of the expense would be borne by the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs.

In addition to the added expense of providing care for overdose patients, Premier’s analysis found that three of every 10,000 overdose patients die in the ED, while another 366 per 10,000 patients die in inpatient settings.

“Opioid addiction has been a public health problem for some time, but we’ve yet to show exactly how hospitals – the entities that treat most of these patients – are financially impacted,” said Dr. Roshni Ghosh, Premier’s Chief Medical Information Officer. “This analysis shows that on top of losing family members and friends to this epidemic, it’s costing consumers and taxpayers, as well as hospitals. There is an urgent need to provide health systems and emergency caregivers with frontline solutions that they can use to stem the tide of opioid addiction in our communities.”

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