A new report estimates that the opioid crisis cost is now in excess of $1 trillion, and further concludes that the cost will continue to rise if conditions do not change.
The report was released by Altarum, a nonprofit consulting and research firm with a focus on issues related to health. According to the report, the opioid crisis cost in 2001 was $29.1 billion, but that cost had grown to an estimated $115 billion for 2017. By extrapolating from this data, the report estimates that the additional cost accrued by 2020 could be greater than $500 billion.
The report identifies several different sources that have lost money due to the opioid crisis. The private sector has lost money due to decreased productivity and the high costs associated with healthcare and adequate addiction recovery treatment. Local, state, and federal governments have seen decreased tax revenue, as well as increased costs for social services, criminal justice, healthcare, and education. Individuals have borne the opioid crisis cost through lost wages and higher healthcare costs.
The report determined that the single greatest opioid crisis cost was the loss of wages and productivity from those who died of an opioid overdose. Given that 41 is the average age of those who die from opioid overdoses, an estimated $800,000 is lost when these workers lives are cut short by a fatal opioid overdose. While this cost is largely expressed through lost wages and lost productivity for the employer, there is also a cost to the government due to lost tax revenue.
In addition to these costs, the report also noted that the opioid crisis cost is also seen in the healthcare sector. The estimated costs associated with the opioid crisis for the healthcare sector totaled $215.7 billion between 2001 and 2017. These costs, which included the price of naloxone and ambulance trips, were largely born by Medicaid since its expansion in 2014.
The report concluded that if the opioid crisis continued unabated, the opioid crisis could cost an additional $500 billion over the next three years.