Between 1999 and 2016, there were more than 200,000 deaths via prescription opioid overdose in the United States. Millions more are caught in the iron grip of addiction.
The opioid crisis can be understood in a lot of different ways. It’s been described as a failure of policy, the collateral damage in the pursuit of irresponsible profits, or just the latest trend in an eons-old cycle of addiction. But one area that has not received enough scrutiny is the very nature of how healthcare is delivered and paid for in the United States.
We have spent years as a country arguing over who would pay for health insurance, without spending even one-tenth that time talking about reforming a broken care system.
Yet precisely because of this crisis’ overwhelming visibility, the keys to fixing health care are hiding in plain sight. And the primary lever we can pull in the fight against opioid overprescription and misuse is value-based primary care.