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Reducing Healthcare Cost through Physician Quality Data: Prescribed Anxiety Meds Have a Substantial Impact on Health Care Utilization

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National Insurance Services has partnered with Grand Rounds to help our clients reduce their health insurance claims. In this article, Grand Rounds discusses how high-quality physicians are less likely to prescribe benzodiazepines, a drug that is part of our current prescription drug abuse crisis.

Opioids aren’t the only drug in the prescription drug abuse crisis. Over the past two decades, the number of Americans taking benzodiazepines increased by 67%, resulting in more than 13 million American adults filling prescriptions each year.1

Benzodiazepines or BZDs for short, are prescribed to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, and mood-related disorders. Common types of BZDs include Xanax and Valium. These medications are highly addictive and the CDC estimates that BZDs are now involved in almost one in every three prescription drug abuse deaths.2

Although these drugs offer rapid symptomatic relief, they do nothing to reduce anxiety permanently and carry a substantial risk of addiction, falls and fractures, and motor vehicle accidents.3 Grand Rounds data finds that primary care physicians whose quality rates are in the bottom 10% are prescribing BZDs to anxiety patients 3x more often than the top 10%.3

“Inappropriate BZD use can also have a substantial impact on employees’ health insurance utilization. A recent study of primary care patients found that patients who received BZDs had 25% more primary care visits, 41% more specialist visits, 62% more emergency room visits, and 73% more hospitalizations.”4

Employers are partnering with Grand Rounds to connect employees with high quality doctors whose expertise can help guide them on the best clinical path.

Learn more about how low-quality doctors prescribe more benzodiazepines.

Learn more about realize a return on investment by addressing high-cost medical conditions with your employees.

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1"Increasing Benzodiazepine Prescriptions and overdose Mortality in the United States, 1996-2013,” American Public Health Association, http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.2016.303061, April 2016

2“More Than Just an Opioid Crisis: Deaths From Anti-Anxiety Drugs Are on the Rise, Too,” STAT News, https://www.statnews.com/2016/02/18/benzodiazepines-overdose-deaths/, February 2016

3Freese, Nate. “It Isn’t Just Opioids: Low-Quality Doctors Prescribe Far More Benzodiazepines, Too.” Web blog post. Grand Rounds, 14 November 2017. Web. 20 March 2018.

4“Benzodiazepines are Prescribed More Frequently to Patients Already at Risk for Benzodiazepine-Related Adverse Events in Primary Care,” Journal of General Internal Medicine, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-016-3740-0, May 2016

National Insurance Services is not a law firm and no opinion, suggestion, or recommendation of the firm or its employees shall constitute legal advice. Readers are advised to consult with their own attorney for a determination of their legal rights, responsibilities and liabilities, including the interpretation of any statute or regulation, or its application to the readers’ business activities.

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Valerie Ortiz

Valerie Ortiz

Over the past 15+ years, Valerie Ortiz has worn many hats at National Insurance Services. She currently heads up NIS’ Marketing Team where she helps to create and execute employee benefit communications based upon our public sector clients’ needs. Valerie brings order to the chaos and has a zeal for detail and a talent for organization.