In my opinion, one large factor for the increase in healthcare spending is the country’s continued struggle with addiction — specifically to opioids. Calling it an “epidemic” at this point may actually be putting it lightly.
Prescription pills have been handed out near-indiscriminately by medical professionals for decades. Setting aside the debate over whether or not these professionals were fully aware of the potential for addiction for a moment — the fact is many Americans are now suffering as a result.
And where are they forced to turn for treatment? In many cases, Medicaid.
So, is that the crutch? Treating and caring for an addiction-addled nation reliant on government-provided healthcare?
The 2016 Surgeon General’s report, Facing Addiction in America cited some interesting — and eye opening data:
- Every dollar spent on substance abuse disorder treatment saves $4 in healthcare costs
- Every dollar spent on substance abuse disorder treatment saves $7 in criminal justice costs
- The consequences of untreated addiction costs the US economy approximately $442 Billion per year
There is no clear or easy answer, which makes the current debate over health insurance in Washington so crucial. However, I think that the effect that opioid addiction has on ballooning healthcare expenditures is obvious — how much fighting against addiction will ultimately cost or save us unfortunately isn’t.