Weaning off narcotics, losing health plan

How do I wean off of Norco? I’m on it for back pain, but I’m about to lose my job and my health insurance.  And what will happen when I get a new plan, when I hopefully get a new job with benefits?

Back In Motion

Dear Back In Motion,

Norco is a narcotic drug used for pain.  Because it is a narcotic, your doctor should give you what is called a “tapering schedule” to reduce your dose over a period of time, and eventually to nothing.

Though you may be able to reduce your use of painkillers, you may need to use other treatments for your pain.  Before you lose your insurance, ask your doctor for exercises and stretches that will help your pain.  You may be able to squeeze in a few physical therapy appointments before your coverage ends; the therapist can give you this kind of advice.
If you go 63 days without insurance and you get a new plan in 2013, your new plan can refuse to pay bills for your pain care.  In 2014, health reform requires all plans to cover all conditions no matter when the illness started.  Until then, you may have some gaps in your coverage.
Good luck with your care and your search for a new job!
Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.