Opioid Use Among Female SC Medicaid Recipients

Study looks at female recipients of reproductive age

Photo of prescription medicine bottlesDuring the summer of 2014, The University of South Carolina, Institute for Families in Society, Division of Medicaid Policy Research conducted a retrospective study of opioid use among South Carolina female Medicaid recipients of reproductive age.

The Key Findings were as follows:

  • The majority of female Medicaid patients of reproductive age were prescribed chronic short-acting opioid (SAO) therapies.  Anywhere between 4% and 26% of patients receiving chronic opioid therapy have an opioid use disorder, and among these patients, one in ten misuse opioids.[1] 
  • Over 6,000 patients were prescribed hydrocodone-acetaminophen, and these women were not only more likely to visit more than one prescriber to receive their prescription, but were also most likely to be continuous users for a year.
  • The potential maternal and child health risks associated with this misuse are significant, especially since approximately 14% of female patients ages 18-44 delivered a baby in both of these fiscal years and women of advanced maternal age, who are at greater risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, were more likely to be prescribed.[2] 
  • These data suggest the need for changes in service delivery that promote early identification of opioid-dependent women of reproductive age, which is key to improving both maternal and infant outcomes, as well as reducing overall cost to the state Medicaid agency resulting from potentially high ER utilization, neonatal intensive care unit costs, prescription monitoring, medical complications, and treatment.

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[1] http://www.supportprop.org/educational/PROP_OpioidPrescribing.pdf

[2] Percentage derived from data pulled from Truven Health Advantages Suite V. 5.1 with claims processed through July, 2014.  Percentage represents female patients ages 18-44 with a delivery/total number of female patients ages 18-44.