Trends in opioid use in commercially insured and Medicare Advantage populations in 2007-16

Rates of opioid use among commercially insured and Medicare patients were elevated during 2007–16, investigators report, especially among the disabled. The research took the form of a retrospective cohort study, which was based on administrative claims data for 48 million people.

Rates of opioid use among commercially insured and Medicare patients were elevated during 2007–16, investigators report, especially among the disabled. The research took the form of a retrospective cohort study, which was based on administrative claims data for 48 million people. For the entire study period, annual opioid use prevalence was 14% for patients with commercial health coverage and 26% for Medicare beneficiaries whose eligibility was based on age. The highest rate, for patients younger than age 65 years who qualified for Medicare Advantage because of a permanent disability, was 52%. Not only did this subset produce the highest use, it had the highest use over the long term as well as the largest average daily dose. While usage trends changed only modestly in the other categories over time, both quarterly consumption rates and average daily dose were meaningfully higher in 2016 than in 2007 for the Medicare Advantage group. The trend persisted in the face of targeted opioid abuse and awareness campaigns.