Quality of Buprenorphine Care for Insured Adults with Opioid Use Disorder

Kelly E. Anderson, Brendan Saloner, Julia Eckstein, Christine E. Chaisson, Sarah H. Scholle, Lauren Niles, Sydney Dy, G. Caleb Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: The aim of this study was to characterize quality of buprenorphine care for opioid use disorder (OUD) by quantifying buprenorphine initiation, engagement, and maintenance for individuals in a large, diverse, real-world cohort in the United States. Design: This was a retrospective cohort analysis. Setting: OUD treatment in the outpatient setting. Participants: A total of 45,210 commercially insured and Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees 18 years or older in the OptumLabs Data Warehouse with an index diagnosis of OUD between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018. Interventions: Treatment with buprenorphine. Measurements: We calculated 6 measures of buprenorphine treatment quality. We conducted survival analyses to characterize treatment duration and logistic regressions to evaluate the association between clinical and sociodemographic characteristics and quality. Findings: Of 45,210 eligible individuals with OUD, ~1 in 10 (n=4600, 10.2%) initiated buprenorphine within 365 days following diagnosis (Measure #1) and 2850 individuals (6.3%) initiated buprenorphine within 14 days of diagnosis (Measure #2). Of individuals initiating treatment within 14 days of diagnosis, 1769 (62.1%) had 2 or more buprenorphine claims within 34 days of initiation (Measure #3). Of the 4600 individuals who received buprenorphine, 2300 (50.0%) were maintained in care with 180 days or more of covered buprenorphine treatment during 365 days after diagnosis (Measure #4). Finally, of the 4600 individuals who received buprenorphine, 2543 (55.3%) did not fill any other concurrent opioid analgesic (Measure #5) and 2951 (64.2%) did not fill any concurrent benzodiazepine (Measure #6). Quality was generally lower for individuals with MA compared with commercial coverage and among Hispanic and Black adults compared with White adults. Conclusion: Widespread gaps exist in quality of buprenorphine treatment initiation, engagement, and maintenance among commercially insured and MA enrollees with OUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-401
Number of pages9
JournalMedical care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Medicare Advantage
  • buprenorphine
  • commercial insurance
  • opioid use disorder
  • quality
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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