The figures cover the four-year period from 2015 to 2018, and by the end of this year, the tally will reach as high as $845 billion. Individuals and the private sector have borne about 70% of the burden, with federal, state and local governments bearing a bit less than a third. The study estimates that the cost across all levels of governments was $186 billion.
The actuaries said the biggest cost was associated with lost earnings of those killed by opioids, accounting for about 40% of the total. Additional health care spending accounted for another third of the total cost. Police and legal activities, education, child-care and lost productivity accounted for the rest.
The report notes that the true cost of the crisis is likely higher than its estimates given the difficulties involved in accounting for every loss.
More than 400,000 people have been killed in the crisis since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.