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Is Medical Marijuana the Answer to Lowering Healthcare Costs?

Is Medical Marijuana the Answer to Lowering Healthcare Costs?

By Sean Williams
August 31, 2014

Comparatively speaking the United States has the highest healthcare costs of all 34 countries in the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development. But, relative to the past five decades, healthcare inflation is practically at its low.

According to data from the Commerce Department, healthcare costs for July 2013 rose just 1% over July 2012. To add some context to these figures, the year-over-year increase between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s ranged between 4% to as high as 12%.

Opioid abuse is on the rise
However, one treatment area where costs aren’t declining for consumers and insurers is opioid prescriptions. Opioids are commonly prescribed to patients who are dealing with chronic pain issues. Because the condition is ongoing, there’s a propensity for patients to be on these medications for long periods of time. Furthermore, many opioid-based medications, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, can be quite addictive which can lead to abuse of the medication.

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