Opioids Are An Economic Issue As Well As A Health Issue

Credit: AAMC

The opioid crisis striking North America is proving to be a health, social, and economic disaster.

Right now, one out of every eighty Americans is affected by an opioid use disorder. The health implications of an opioid use disorder are becoming more well understood. At the same time, the economic effects of the crisis are now becoming more well understood. The Society of Actuaries (SOA) has determined that the total cost of the opioid crisis was $631 billion from 2015 to 2018. There are many ways that the opioid crisis has cost the US so much during this period. The opioid problem has created an economic burden that wears down American healthcare services for a start. The issue also has a serious effect on mortality expenses, law enforcement expenses, assistance programs, and of course lost productivity.

While the opioid crisis may be far from home for many Americans, the costs are high when you look at opioid-related expenses across the US. Mortality costs added up to $253 billion, about one-fifth of total mortality expenses in the US.

The costs of the opioid crisis primarily stem from the loss of lifetime earnings caused by early deaths resulting from opioids. When all expenses are accounted for, federal, state and local governments have payed 29% of the costs that come with opioid addiction and deaths that result from it. Of course, the private sector has had to cover the rest of these expenses. The SOA believes that the total cost of the crisis will be at least $172 billion in 2019 alone. Overall, mortality costs are expected to play the largest role.

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