NE Doing Something Right When it Comes to Opioid Addiction

While other parts of the country are experiencing high rates of opioid addiction, a new Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association study shows opioid use in Nebraska is much lower than other parts of the country.


“Nebraska providers are very aware of the threat of overdose in prescribing, and monitor the opioids their patients use,” Dr. Debra Esser, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska’s chief medical officer, said. “The Nebraska Medical Association has also done a good job of educating physicians and the state has a monitoring program where doctors can sign on and see a patient’s prescription history to determine if they have addiction problems.”

That awareness and education is evident in the study results.

Of all BCBSNE members who use a pharmacy, 16 percent filled an opioid prescription. The national statistic, according to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association study, is 20 percent. The study also showed that:

  • The highest long-term users of opioids in Nebraska are women over 45.

  • Rural areas in the state have a slightly higher rate of use than urban areas.  

  • Osteoarthritis is the largest driver of long-term opioid use in Nebraska.

According to Esser, long-term opioid use to treat osteoarthritis must be carefully monitored to prevent it from becoming a problem as the number of Nebraska’s elderly population grows.  

“I’m proud of Nebraska providers,” Esser said. “But we must remain vigilant and continue to do a good job.”

The state recently received a $2 million grant to focus on addiction treatment and prevention. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services will also use the money to buy and expand access to the critical life-saving drug line, Naloxone.  Naloxone is a nasal injection used to counteract opioid overdoses. HyVee and CHI Health have announced that Naloxone will be available without a prescription at stores across the state.

Read more about the opioid study



The percentage of the bill you pay after your deductible has been met.


A fixed amount you pay when you get a covered health service.

Tiered benefit plan

A health care plan featuring multiple levels of benefits based on the network status of a particular provider. 


The annual amount you pay for covered health services before your insurance begins to pay.

emergency care services

Any covered services received in a hospital emergency room setting.


Includes behavioral health treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy

in-network provider

A provider contracted by your insurance company to accept an agreed upon payment for covered services. 

OUT-OF-network provider

A term for providers that aren’t contracting with your insurance company. (Your out-of-pocket costs will tend to be more expensive if you go to an out-of-network provider.)


Your expenses for medical care that aren’t reimbursed by insurance, including deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments.


If you can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy it, you must have a health coverage exemption or pay a tax penalty on your federal income tax return.


The amount you pay to your health insurance company each month. 

Preventive services

Health care services that focus on the prevention of disease and health maintenance.


Services and devices to help you recover if you are injured or have surgery. This includes physical, occupational and speech therapy.

special enrollment period

The time after the Open Enrollment Period when you can still purchase health insurance only if you have a qualifying life event (losing other health coverage, having a baby, getting married, moving).


A physician who has a majority of his or her practice in fields other than internal or general medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics or family practice.