Study Finds Heroin Users in Ohio Face Barriers to Treatment

Jun 10, 2019

Heroin users in Ohio can have a harder time getting treatment when on Medicaid. Researchers from Harvard University posed as heroin users and called over 100 clinics throughout Ohio.

Tamara Beetham was a graduate student at the time who helped conduct the study. She says researchers chose to pose as patients to understand what a real person might encounter.

They found that, in Ohio, the patient with Medicaid was likely to receive an appointment about 50 percent of the time. While the uninsured patient who was able to pay cash had a better chance.

"The Ohio clinics offered cash-pay callers appointments 73 percent of the time, but it’s quite expensive to be paying cash. So, the average cost to see a provider before getting prescribed medication is 250 dollars, so for patients that aren’t well-off, that’s a very real hurdle.”

Beetham says there were no clinical differences between the two patient profiles aside from their method of payment.

She says researchers were surprised by how difficult it was to get an appointment and that can potentially cause people to change their mind about getting help.