Private insurers to cover methadone treatments

BOSTON (WWLP) – Beginning this summer, private health insurance companies in Massachusetts will cover methadone treatment for people struggling with addiction.

Methadone is one form of medication that curbs opioid withdrawal symptoms. Many health plans do not cover it, but starting on July 1, most private insurance companies in Massachusetts will help pay for the drug.

“Methadone is a proven treatment option. It’s clinically effective; we know that from recent studies, long term studies. It’s one more tool in the toolbox for providers to use with their patients,” said Massachusetts Association of Health Plans President Lora Pellegrini.

There are challenges with methadone treatment because it is a daily regimen. Patients have to go to a clinic every single day in order to receive the drug. Association of Behavior Healthcare President Vic DiGravio told 22News some health plans already cover methadone, but they require co-payments. He said costs can really add up with everyday treatments.

“If you’re paying twenty dollars a visit and you’re going seven days a week for months or years at a time, co-pays can make the benefits essentially prohibitive,” said DiGravio.

Last March, former Governor Deval Patrick declared the opioid epidemic a Public Health Emergency in Massachusetts. Methadone is just one method to combat addiction. There is no estimate on how much the change would impact insurance companies.

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