"As of 2013, Medicaid in 48 states required a prior authorization for buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone. Chris Carroll, director of health care financing at SAMHSA, says that number likely has not changed much since 2013. He says treatment limitations like prior authorizations are part of "the dark shadows of the insurance industry."

Prior authorizations are one way insurers limit what they pay for, Muszynski says, and they use prior authorizations more often with mental health and addiction treatments, compared to other medical treatments. That's despite the 2008 passage of a federal law called the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was supposed to end unequal insurance coverage for mental illness as compared to physical illness."

CLICK THE ARTICLE TITLE FOR THE FULL NPR STORY.