Buprenorphine Remains Underutilized Despite Relaxed Regulations

In 2021, almost all commercial, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid health plans covered at least one immediate-release buprenorphine, a medication for treating opioid use disorder (OUD), according to a recent Health Affairs study. Also, since 2017, fewer health plans have been requiring prior authorization and quantity limits for those medications.

However, fewer than half of commercial formularies and one-fifth of MA formularies covered extended-release buprenorphine products in 2021. Comparatively, 82.8% of Medicaid formularies covered such medications, and the share of Medicaid formularies without prior authorization requirements increased from 6.8% in 2018 to 63.3% in 2021.

© 2024 MMIT
Jinghong Chen

Jinghong Chen Reporter

Jinghong has been producing infographics and data stories on employer-sponsored insurance, public health insurance programs and prescription drug coverage for AIS Health’s Health Plan Weekly and Radar on Drug Benefits since 2018. She also manages AIS Health’s annual executive compensation database for top insurers and Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliates. Before joining AIS Health, she interned at WBEZ, Al Jazeera English and The New York Times Chinese. She graduated from Missouri School of Journalism with a focus on data journalism and international reporting.

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