Published March 1, 2017

Many of us know someone who has been directly affected by the opioid crisis that is currently gripping our nation. Families and entire communities have been devastated by addiction, and the workplace is no exception. According to a recent report by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP), about one in three companies (32.3%) state that prescription drug addiction is prevalent in their organization. Yet, a smaller number – one in five companies – analyze their prescription drug claims to identify and assist members who struggle with addiction.

For the labor community, these statistics are startling as the health and wellbeing of our country’s workforce is a priority. I was fortunate to join labor leaders and health benefit advisors at the recent Made in America Conference in Las Vegas where I was able to share the Blue Cross and Blue Shield  (BCBS) commitment to tackling the opioid crisis.

As part of this commitment we have convened top experts from across the BCBS System, including pharmacists, medical and public health professionals, behavioral health and addiction specialists and policy experts to develop and enact best practices across the system that encourage optimal prescribing practices, evidence-based guidelines for treating opioid addiction, and more.

Further, we have found more research is needed to effectively treat addiction and we are bringing together leading research and academic institutions to identify these gaps in knowledge so we can begin taking the critical steps to filling those gaps.   

Solving this complex issue will require the labor community, healthcare providers, insurers, policymakers, and others working together to put a stop to the opioid crisis. If one thing is clear from the conversation at the Made in America conference, the labor community and BCBS are committed to combating this issue to foster the health and wellbeing of America’s working families.  

Bonnie Summers is the Executive Director of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s National Labor Office.   The NLO was founded in 1965 to act as a liaison between organized labor and our 36 BCBS companies, working hand in hand to ensure secure and stable healthcare coverage for working Americans.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.