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Opioid use and incapacity – Healthcare Economist

How is opioid use trending over time? Amongst people who filed for Social Safety Incapacity Insurance coverage (SSDI), a paper by Maestas et al. (2022) finds that:

…the prevalence of opioid use amongst SSDI candidates declined from 33 % in 2013 to 24 % in 2018. Against this, the share of candidates reporting musculoskeletal impairments, that are generally related to power ache, was unchanged throughout this era.

One key query is whether or not the usage of opioids results in kind of submitting for incapacity? On the one hand, if opioids assist folks management power ache, they are able to retain their employment and will keep away from submitting for incapacity; then again, opioids are addictive and opioid abuse could enhance the chance people observe for incapacity. A paper by Maestas and Sherry (2022) appears at this relationship. They use variation in well being care suppliers’ opioid prescribing preferences (e.g., variations in dosage and length) that aren’t defined by affected person observable affected person traits. Nonetheless, this method assumes that this cross-provider variation in supplier prescribing practices is because of variations in doctor preferences relatively than unobservable (within the information however to not physicians) variations in common ache severity throughout sufferers. Regardless of this limitation, the examine finds that:

…in areas with the next opioid prescribing propensity, employment and wages are decrease. Particularly, 10 further opioid prescriptions per 100 adults in a neighborhood space result in a 1.6 % lower in employment and a 6 % lower within the common weekly wage, relative to the pattern common. Additional, a rise of 10 prescriptions per 100 adults is related to an 8 % enhance in SSDI purposes, a ten % enhance in purposes mentioning opioid use, and a 6 % enhance within the chance that an utility is allowed on the preliminary assessment, relative to imply values.

These research are summarized within the newest version of the NBER’s Bulletin on Retirement and Incapacity.

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