New health insurance reforms to combat opioid epidemic take effect January 1st

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New health insurance reforms to combat the opioid epidemic will take effect starting the 1st of the new year.

Once it goes into effect January 1st health insurance plans will be required to cover treatment services for people who suffer from opioid addiction.

Insurance policies currently have a process in place that requires prior approval to admit a person into a treatment program, and that process could keep a person in withdrawal waiting between 6 to 8 hours.  But now that will go away with the new reforms which will also increase access to treatment, expand community prevention strategies, and limit the over-prescription of opioids.

The reforms will also require insurance companies to cover the costs of naloxone when prescribed to a person who is addicted to opioids.

Officials say these new laws will save lives.

“Now people have immediate access, they don’t have to run into the insurance obstacles, they not only have immediate access but they have access without insurance interference for a period of 2 weeks for inpatient care so they can start to get better. Everybody can focus on getting the individual better, the people won’t leave while they’re waiting in a waiting room and don’t continue to use and potentially overdose and die,” said Rob Kent, NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services General Counsel.

The new insurance coverage requirements apply to small group and large group plans, as well as plans sold to individuals.

For more information on new health insurance reforms to combat the opioid epidemic contact DFS at the agency’s toll-free hotline 800-342-3736 or www.dfs.gov

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