Insurance Barriers to Adequate Pain Treatment

"Costly team care, expensive medications, and procedural interventions—all common types of treatment for pain—are not readily obtained by the 19 percent of Americans under age 65 who lack health insurance coverage (Holahan, 2011) or by the additional 14 percent of under-65 adults who are underinsured (Schoen et al., 2008). Together, these groups make up one-third of the nation’s population. Lack of insurance coverage also may contribute to disparities in care. An inability to pay for pain care is especially prevalent among minorities and women (Green et al., 2011). As discussed above, even for people with insurance coverage, third-party reimbursement systems tend not to cover or to cover well psychosocial services and team approaches that represent the best care for people with the most difficult pain problems. Surmounting this barrier may require coordinated action by advocates for improvement."


Institute of Medicine, "Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research" (Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2011), p. 156.