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The prospect of marijuana legalization has a lot of companies reviewing their policies regarding drugs and alcohol in the workplace, and for good reason. But it’s opioids that continue to haunt the Garden State.

The state’s largest health insurance company, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, is taking steps is to reduce opioid addiction and provide help to those suffering from drug addiction.  Horizon BCBSNJ officials Tracy Parris-Benjamin, Community Health, and Joann Karcic, Behavioral Health, recently detailed the efforts on the company’s news website.   

Specifically, Horizon BCBSNJ has taken steps to identify insureds taking high doses of opioids outside of recommended guidelines or seeking opioid prescriptions from multiple prescribers; limit those who have a history of filling multiple prescriptions with several providers to a single pharmacy; educate prescribers on identifying high-risk behaviors; and provide reimbursements for alternative pain therapies that do not have the same risks.

“From 2013 to 2017, the total number of opioid medications prescribed to commercially insured Horizon BCBSNJ members has declined by 30 percent,” Parris-Benjamin and Karcic write.  “And the percentage of Horizon BCBSNJ commercially insured members who filled at least one opioid prescription has decreased by 28 percent. Our members have the highest rate of compliance with CDC-recommended dose and duration guidelines for opioids among all Blue Cross Blue Shield plans nationally.”

The opioid epidemic is far from over, however. They note that just last year, New Jersey experienced at least 3,163 opioid-related deaths, about 400 more than in 2017.

Employers with Horizon coverage who have questions or think one of their employees is struggling with drug abuse, can call 1-800-626-2212 for help 24/7. 

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