No-fault insurance helps pay for medical bills if you or your passengers are injured in a car accident, regardless of who caused the wreck. This includes coverage for medications that may be needed for pain management triggered by an accident.
Those who are seriously injured in auto accidents often struggle to deal with relief from chronic pain after these injuries. While laws in most no-fault states will cover opioid prescriptions, most do not cover medical marijuana. It is mind boggling that a safe substance that has proven to relieve pain and display anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective properties is denied coverage while opioids that will kill more than 650,000 Americans in the next decade are covered.
Opioids like hydrocodone are not only far more dangerous, but also more expensive than the use of medical marijuana. Thus, the question is, how much longer can no-fault states cover Hydrocodone while denying coverage for better alternatives?
The Dangers of Opioids
Opioids are dangerously addictive drugs and caused the death of 183,000 people from 1999 to 2015. Once a person becomes physically and psychologically dependent on these drugs, they soon find that it takes a higher and higher dose to obtain relief from their pain.
A person who has been in an auto accident and is suffering from chronic pain may begin taking hydrocodone because it is prescribed by a doctor, but when the pain is gone, they may double up their medicine and begin taking higher and higher doses to reach the same euphoric state. Overdose becomes a real threat for those who have built up an addiction.
The Burden to Insurance Companies
For insurance companies, the cost of prescription painkillers is rising. Doctors are prescribing opioids without determining if these prescriptions are really the best plan for treatment, and by doing this, they are setting patients up to become dependent on highly addictive drugs.
Those who misuse hydrocodone cost no-fault insurance companies a significant amount of money because the insurance companies are paying for prescriptions that may not be medically necessary. In some cases, narcotics are obtained with fraudulent claims of pain. The cost of healthcare in general for prescription drug abusers is also significantly higher than those who take medication as prescribed, which further drives insurance costs up. In fact, patients with an opioid dependency rack up over $15,000 more in claims on average in comparison with all other patients.
Lack of Alternatives
Those who file claims with no-fault insurance companies for pain treatment after a car accident find that there aren’t usually alternatives to treatment of pain with opioids. For example, no fault insurance doesn’t cover treatment of chronic pain with medical marijuana even though it has been proven effective in helping to relieve pain.
The lack of coverage for medical marijuana rings true even in states like Michigan, which has legalized the use of medical cannabis. States that have legalized medical marijuana have no excuse to cover opioids while denying coverage for cannabis.
Changes Needed in No-Fault Auto Insurance
With opioid related deaths continuing to climb, the question remains, how long can no-fault states continue to cover dangerously addictive substances such as hydrocodone? Addiction to narcotics can quickly spiral out of control, and those who live with chronic pain need to be presented with options for pain management that are far less dangerous. Medical marijuana should be covered by no-fault in states where medical marijuana is legal.
About the Author: Steven Gursten is the managing partner at Michigan Auto Law. He has witnessed the devastating effects of opioid use for car accident victims first-hand and is a huge proponent of giving injured victims safer alternatives for pain relief.