New health care mandates could cost $5.5 million in 2016

Mandates will take effect Oct. 1st 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – New state health insurance mandates, designed to decrease drug abuse and addiction, will go into effect October 1st. Some people believe “Anything that can cut down on that is probably a good thing.”

The Center for Health Information and Analysis released its review of the new state mandate that will require private health insurance companies to extend their coverage benefits to include substance abuse treatment programs.

Under the new law, people can be treated for substance abuse for up to 14 days without pre-authorization from their insurance carriers. They can receive counseling, and insurance will cover abuse-deterrent drugs.

The additional coverage will add about $2 to $18 a year to the cost of an annual policy. That means the first full year it’s in effect, it’ll add $5.5 million to the cost of health insurance.

Some people told 22News the state should focus more on the issue of over-prescribing opioids. Jeff Rosso of Lee told 22News “The big problem is that they start off with oxycodone. Doctors prescribe those, and they can’t afford those, and then opium, or heroin is cheaper.”

In fact, the CDC found that 3 out of 4 new heroin users admit to first abusing prescription painkillers. According to State Police, 58 people died in Massachusetts of opioid overdose the first two weeks of December. That number does not include Boston, Worcester and Springfield, so the total number of deaths could be higher.

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