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Subst Abuse. 2017 Jun 13;11:1178221817699247. doi: 10.1177/1178221817699247. eCollection 2017.

Access to and Payment for Office-Based Buprenorphine Treatment in Ohio.

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School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA.
University Hospitals Health System, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, Cleveland, OH, USA.
University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, OH, USA.



Office-based opiate agonist therapy has dramatically expanded access to medication-assisted treatment over the past decade but has also led to increased buprenorphine diversion.


Our study sought to characterize physicians who participate in office-based therapy (OBT) to assess patient access to OBT in Ohio 10 years after its introduction.


Cross-sectional telephone survey of Drug Addiction Treatment Act-waivered physicians in Ohio listed by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT).


This study sought to determine what proportion of eligible physicians are actively prescribing buprenorphine, whether they accept insurance for OBT, and whether they accept insurance for non-OBT services. In addition, we evaluated what physician characteristics predicted those primary outcomes. We hypothesized that a significant minority of eligible physicians are not active prescribers of buprenorphine. In addition, we expected that a significant minority of OBT prescribers do not accept insurance, further restricting patient access. We further hypothesized that a large subset of OBT prescribers accept insurance in their regular practices but do not take insurance for OBT.


Of the 466 listed physicians, 327 (70.2%) practice representatives were reached for interview. Thirty-three physicians were excluded, with a true response rate of 75.5%. In total, 80.7% of providers reached were active OBT prescribers. Of these, 52.7% accepted insurance for OBT, 20.8% accepted insurance for non-OBT services but not for OBT, and 26.5% did not accept insurance for any services. Practices who did not accept insurance were more likely among dedicated addiction clinics located outside of Ohio's 6 major cities. Practices who normally accepted insurance but did not for OBT services were more likely in urban locations and were not associated with dedicated addiction practices. Neither business practice was associated with physician specialty.


Access to OBT in Ohio is far lower than what the 466 listed physicians suggests. Nearly 1 in 5 of those physicians are not active OBT prescribers, and 1 in 2 active prescribers do not accept insurance for OBT. Further research is needed to determine whether practices who do not accept insurance provide care consistent with CSAT guidelines and whether such practice patterns contribute to buprenorphine diversion.


Buprenorphine; buprenorphine access; insurance coverage; payment and office-based treatment

Conflict of interest statement

DECLARATION OF CONFLICTING INTEREST: The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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