Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences




The misuse and abuse of prescription opioid (PO) medications has garnered the attention of lawmakers, healthcare professionals, and public health experts since the opioid epidemic was declared a national public health emergency in 2017. Our purpose in this study was to investigate the types of healthcare insurance that predict PO misuse. We also sought to inform stakeholders of potentially needed changes to the existing inconsistent drug utilization rules necessary to achieve parity among all types of healthcare insurance and minimize loopholes. We performed a secondary data analysis on the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data of noninstitutionalized U.S. citizens aged 12 years and older and used a binary logistic regression analysis to evaluate the data. Medicare beneficiaries were 1.79 times more likely and those who had private healthcare insurance through an employer or union were 1.68 times more likely (95% CI [ 1.025, 3.141] and [1.148, 2.463], respectively) than respondents with other healthcare insurances to use PO longer or in greater amounts than the prescription intended. Respondents who had Medicare were 2.226 times more likely than respondents with other healthcare insurance (95% CI [1.029, 4.989]) to misuse PO by taking the medications longer and for other reasons not specified. Our study demonstrates that the type of healthcare insurance is a predictor of PO misuse. Our research also emphasizes the need for stakeholders to use evidence-based research to ensure parity among insurances.