Costs of Opioid Epidemic High but Hard to Quantify

Maryland residents among those most impacted by the costs of the crisis.

When it comes to the opioid epidemic, some costs are easier to quantify than others leaving the full scope of impact open to estimation.

Governing reports on the national and local efforts to tie a full dollar figure to the impacts of the epidemic:

In November, S&P Global Ratings looked at Medicaid spending, which the authors reasoned was one of the few available state-by-state comparison measurements on the opioid crisis. The report noted that 3 in 10 non-elderly adults on Medicaid struggled with opioid addiction in 2015 — double the rate of 2010.

The S&P report found that the states with the biggest impact on their finances included Kentucky, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

Data that has been collected by AEI shows that Maryland is among the states where residents are carrying a large burden of the costs.

Meanwhile, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) estimates that the top five places residents shouldering the biggest burden are, in order, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Ohio and Connecticut.

The institute, which will release the full results of its study later this month, incorporated data on the societal cost of opioids from a 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report and a more recent report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Together, those reports concluded the epidemic cost the country a half-trillion dollars in 2015 alone.

The AEI report found that the per resident cost ranged from $465 in Nebraska to $4,793 in West Virginia. Their report took into consideration overdose deaths, abuse disorders, health-care and criminal justice costs, and worker productivity.

The article notes that full picture of financial impacts on the local level have been hard to gather as local governments tend to not calculate opioid-related costs until they become a significant part of their budget. Additionally indirect costs, such as loss of economic productivity and children entering state care due to loss of their parents, remain most difficult quantify.

For more information:

How Much Is the Opioid Crisis Costing Governments? (Governing)

New state-level estimates of the economic burden of the opioid epidemic (AEI)