Insurers take aim at opioid crisis by not covering oxycodone

Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, and other private insurers across the country are responding to the opioid epidemic by denying coverage of oxycodone. However, some critics have questioned the effectiveness of prohibiting a single drug, while others note that oxycodone has been a proven benefit to many patients at the end of their lives or post-surgery.

Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, and other private insurers across the country are responding to the opioid epidemic by denying coverage of oxycodone. However, some critics have questioned the effectiveness of prohibiting a single drug, while others note that oxycodone has been a proven benefit to many patients at the end of their lives or post-surgery. Meanwhile, oxycodone manufacturer Purdue Pharma argues it has already taken steps to make its product harder to abuse and accuses insurers of backing competitors for financial gain. Rather than banning the drug outright, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is taking a unique approach. The state's largest insurer announced it will continue to cover oxycodone for its members, but it has installed safeguards to spot and curb potential overuse. Under the insurer's Appropriate Use of Opioids Program launched August 1, it will examine quantity and dosage of opioid prescriptions and check for different doctors writing similar prescriptions for one patient, the insurer said. Houston-based insurer Community Health Choice will also continue to cover oxycodone but will limit the number of tablets prescribed, monitor multiple prescriptions to the same patient, and track doctors who seem to be over-prescribing, said Karen Hill, the company's senior vice president of medical affairs.