The objective of this study was to investigate factors associated with substance use disorder identification and follow-up rates among samples of members of a private health insurance plan.
In an observational study, samples of claims data for 2017 for Commercial and Medicare members from a private health insurer were accessed and analyzed using descriptive statistics, decision tree analysis, and linear regression models.
Commercial and Medicare members differed in age. Medicare members had higher rates of inclusion in a measure of substance use disorder than Commercial members, lower rates of initial short term follow-up, more opioid prescriptions from primary care provides, fewer prescriptions for opioid treatment, and higher rates of selected comorbid conditions. Mental health diagnoses and substance use disorder co-occurred frequently and to a greater extent in the Medicare sample. Among commercial members, there were primarily alcohol problems that increased with age, while opioid problems at about 10% peaked in the mid-twenties. More males were included among all substance types. The overall rate for an initial short term follow-up visit indicating initiation of treatment was 30%. There were large differences in the follow-up rates across settings with a very low rate (4.6% for alcohol and 6.9% for opioid) in primary care settings.
These results suggest that increased attention in primary care to young adult males and to older adults, may help to reduce substance use disorder rates, especially alcohol use disorders.