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Study: Heroin Users In Ohio Face Barriers To Addiction Treatment

A jug of used needles to exchange in Camden, N.J., on Oct. 29, 2015.
Mel Evans
Associated Press
A jug of used needles to exchange in Camden, N.J., on Oct. 29, 2015.

Heroin users in Ohio can have a harder time getting treatment when on Medicaid, a new study found.

Researchers from Harvard University posed as heroin users and called over 100 clinics throughout Ohio.

Tamara Beetham, a graduate student who helped conduct the study, 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% 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% of the time, but it’s quite expensive to be paying cash,” Beetham says. “So, the average cost to see a provider before getting prescribed medication is $250, 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.