The question we hear from underwriters is: is it financially feasible to screen all life applicants for opioid use? The intention of this paper is to provide context for these concerns by exploring various screening options, and to provide a cost-benefit analysis that can assist underwriting departments in determining when to use such screening tools.
Insurers’ goals are cost containment, faster turnaround and “customer friendliness” with a mandate for continued robust mortality gains. This article looks at impactful interim developments and critical questions yet to be resolved. It includes data from a 2017 survey of 110 life insurers regarding tobacco, alcohol and drug use underwriting.
Population data show that drug-related mortality rates have more than doubled since the beginning of the century. This statistic is troubling enough as it is, but it hides the fact that almost all the increase is due to opioids, which account for just over half of the deaths.
This paper seeks to understand the unique set of circumstances that led to the dramatic rise in opioid prescriptions over the last few decades, and provide a brief overview of the resultant morbidity and mortality for the insured population.
The English author and cultural critic Matthew Arnold described fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge as a “philosopher wrecked in a mist of opium.” Using laudanum (a tincture of opium) to treat various ailments led Coleridge to lifelong addiction. Although laudanum is more closely controlled today, non-prescription use of opioid painkillers leads to addiction and remains a significant health threat.