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Covering Addiction in Health Reform Will Save Money, Group Says

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Including addiction treatment in national healthcare reform will save the nation billions of dollars in emergency care and other health costs, according to a new white paper from the Open Society Institute's Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap initiative.

The “Unforeseen Benefits: Addiction Treatment Reduces Health Care Costs” white paper said that in addition to fewer costly visits to emergency rooms, making addiction treatment more available and affordable will reduce hospital stays and other healthcare costs.

“When addictions go untreated, a person's medical care is fragmented, inefficient and ultimately, more costly,” said Victor Capoccia, Ph.D., director of the Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap program. “There is tremendous momentum now to reform the nation's healthcare system, and including addiction treatment is a win-win for the nation. Access to effective treatment will help Americans live longer and healthier lives, and it will save billions of dollars over a decade's time compared with the cost of not treating persons at all.”

Currently, only about one in 10 Americans who need addiction treatment receive care, while one of 14 hospital stays are related to addictions, the white paper noted. Past research also has shown that patients who received addiction treatment reduced their other medical costs by 26 percent.

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