How is it that the opioid crisis suddenly came upon us? According to Real Clear Health, 33,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2015 alone, mostly from heroin. Many of these victims graduated to heroin abuse after being prescribed opioids for chronic pain. The culprit, in part, seems to be Obamacare’s perverse incentives to insurance companies to cut programs to help people wean off of an addiction to opioids.

How Obamacare is killing individuals who are addicted to opioids

The fact that too many doctors have over-prescribed opioids has been in the news for the past couple of years.

Governments and insurance companies have combined to arbitrarily cut prescriptions of opioids to stopping the addiction crisis. Unfortunately, this effort has left many people without access to treatments for dealing with excruciating pain. Almost as important, many have become addicts that are not being treated for their condition. In desperation, they are turning to the illegal drug market for relief. Hence, a spike in overdoses is occurring.

Insurance is not adequately covering treatments for opioid addiction

Obamacare offers subsidies to insurance companies for people with chronic conditions, such as Opioid Addiction. However, typical of government healthcare, it underpays. So, insurance companies are designing their health care coverage to make it unattractive to sicker, more expensive patients, by restricting health provider networks, drug formularies, and prescription copays, while still adhering to the letter of Obamacare.

The hope is that patients will go elsewhere for coverage, relieving the insurance companies of the burden of caring for them. However, there is no elsewhere, especially for people who have been addicted to opioids who have had their supply cut off and who are not being treated for their pain or their addiction.

How this revelation should affect the politics of Obamacare

People who support Obamacare and resist its repeal and replacement have loudly claimed that without the affordable care act, many thousands of people will die. However, it looks like we have a data point that shows that because of Obamacare, thousands of people will die.

Of course, individuals who think that the government should provide healthcare to everyone counter that this means it is time for single-payer, government run health care. All that means is that instead of an insurance company cutting sick people off, the government health service will do so as a means of controlling costs, as had been the experience in countries that have such a system.

Government fiat, therefore, is a poor way to incentivize healthcare providers to treat sicker, expensive patients. Some free market solution should be found to help sick people and not harm them.