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Affordable Rehab
for Substance Abuse

Affordable Rehab
for Substance Abuse

It’s no secret that the price tag for substance abuse treatment (aka, drug rehab) is pretty high. The good news is that today, most treatment services for substance use disorders are covered by health insurance. That doesn’t mean, however, that those with insurance will not have to pay some of the costs of rehab out of their own pockets. Most will, in the form of deductibles and co-pays. And, of course, not everyone is covered by private health insurance. There’s also the painful reality that for many people struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol – particularly those who are homeless, unemployed, or without family or friends who can afford to help out – paying even part of the cost of treatment is beyond their financial means.

Fortunately, there are a wide range of programs that can be accessed – and strategies utilized – to help cover the high cost of treatment, including public and private insurance options, government-funded rehab services and subsidies, discounted treatment plans, and more. The point is this: No one with a drug or alcohol addiction problem should ever be denied the treatment they need due to an inability to pay. And with a little research and planning, affordable drug rehab is within the reach of almost everyone.

Expert

Expert

It’s no secret that the price tag for substance abuse treatment (aka, drug rehab) is pretty high. The good news is that today, most treatment services for substance use disorders are covered by health insurance. That doesn’t mean, however, that those with insurance will not have to pay some of the costs of rehab out of their own pockets. Most will, in the form of deductibles and co-pays. And, of course, not everyone is covered by private health insurance. There’s also the painful reality that for many people struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol – particularly those who are homeless, unemployed, or without family or friends who can afford to help out – paying even part of the cost of treatment is beyond their financial means.

Fortunately, there are a wide range of programs that can be accessed – and strategies utilized – to help cover the high cost of treatment, including public and private insurance options, government-funded rehab services and subsidies, discounted treatment plans, and more. The point is this: No one with a drug or alcohol addiction problem should ever be denied the treatment they need due to an inability to pay. And with a little research and planning, affordable drug rehab is within the reach of almost everyone.

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The Big Picture: Finding Affordable Drug Rehab

Drug addiction is a very big problem in America. Here are a few unfortunate and uncomfortable facts:

Here’s one other interesting fact: There are over 12,000 drug rehab facilities currently operating in the United States.

Taken together, all of these findings beg one very important question: Why aren’t more people getting the treatment they need for their addiction problems? The answer: There are lots of reasons, including the fact that many addicts are simply unwilling – or at least not ready – to accept help when it’s offered. But there is another perceived barrier to substance abuse treatment, and that’s cost.

There are lots of figures floating around out there regarding the actual costs of drug rehab, and they’re all over the place, anywhere from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’ve listed below the most common treatment types and the range of costs associated with each of them. It’s important to remember, though, that these costs represent what treatment centers charge for their services, not the amounts that the patient will actually pay out-of-pocket for those services.

  • Detoxification: Detoxification, or detox, refers to the process of ridding the body of its dependence on the addictive substance. In some cases, detox involves hospitalization, at least during initial stages, allowing for the monitoring of withdrawal and administration of drugs that help decrease cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Detox costs may run from $250 to $800 a day. Inpatient detox may be included in the cost of a comprehensive residential treatment program.
  • Inpatient Residential: Residential inpatient programs provide housing, full meal service, extracurricular activities, and 24-hour-a-day supervision for their patients. Costs for a 30-day inpatient program may run from $2,000 to $25,000, or more – sometimes much more.
  • Outpatient: Patients live away from the rehab center during outpatient treatment, typically attending therapy and meetings on-site 10 to 12 hours per week. The cost of a 30-day outpatient program can run from $3,000 to $10,000, or more. In some cases – where government insurance or programs, or charitable contributions, cover the entire cost of treatment – a patient may be able to receive outpatient rehab services free-of-charge.
The Cost of Treatment vs. the Cost of Addiction

Concerns about treatment cost are real and certainly to be expected. But it’s important to consider the short-term price of treatment in light of the long-term costs associated with continued drug addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, for example, for every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs there is a four-to-seven dollar return on investment in terms of reduced crime and related criminal justice costs. When healthcare-related savings are included in the calculation, total savings can exceed costs by a 12-to-1 ratio.

But those figures only indicate the price of drug addiction and cost savings of treatment to the nation as a whole. If you are dealing with a loved one struggling with substance abuse, the costs are direct and personal. You know about the thousands of dollars wasted on the purchase of drugs, the mounting bills for emergency medical care and hospitalization, and the lost opportunities and income that result from the inability to hold a job. And, of course, the biggest price paid of all: the devastating losses to health, self-esteem, personal relationships, property, mental and emotional wellbeing, and much more. So remember: No matter the cost of treatment, nothing is more expensive than not getting help.

Finding and Funding Affordable rehab centers

Making affordable drug rehab a reality takes a bit of work. Once the decision has been made to seek help for a substance use problem, the next step is to determine what type of treatment is best. For that, you’ll need to consult with an addiction treatment expert, like your doctor or mental health professional. You may also start by directly contacting a local drug rehab center. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to find affordable rehab centers near you. An addiction treatment expert can provide your loved one with a substance use assessment and recommended course of treatment, as well as referrals to rehab facilities and programs.

Once you know the type of treatment required, you’ll be ready to tackle the issue of how to pay for treatment. Below are several of suggestions for finding and funding affordable rehab for your loved one.

If your friend or family member doesn’t have health insurance, it may be time to get it. Thanks mostly to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, insurers must meet certain minimal coverage requirements for substance abuse treatment as one of 10 “essential health benefits”. Additionally, under the ACA, applicants for insurance cannot be turned down for coverage due to a pre-existing medical condition, and addiction is considered a pre-existing condition for insurance purposes.

All of this adds up to a very good reason to apply for insurance. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most ACA plans require the insured to pay some of the costs of treatment, and these out-of-pocket costs can be steep. Therefore, be sure you understand all details of any policy under consideration before signing up.

Residents of most states will apply for and enroll in coverage through Healthcare.org, the federal government’s insurance marketplace website. Residents of 14 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, will use their state’s individual marketplace website to find coverage. Information on those sites can be found here.

Medicaid and Medicare are government programs that provide health insurance for persons who meet certain specific criteria for coverage. Medicaid is a federally-funded and state-administered program primarily for low-income persons. Substance abuse treatment coverage for Medicaid recipients was greatly expanded in many states under the ACA, and now includes rehab services similar to those required of private ACA marketplace insurers. Coverage under Medicaid varies by state, so be sure to check your state’s program for eligibility and coverage details.

Medicare is federally-based health insurance primarily for people 65 years of age older. It additionally provides benefits to younger people with disabilities and individuals with End-Stage Renal Disease. Medicare offers coverage for a range of substance use disorder treatment services, including, among others, detoxification, inpatient and outpatient programs, and counseling during rehab. Medicare typically does not cover the entire cost of treatment, with recipients responsible for deductibles and co-pays. Contact your Medicare provider to learn more about your plan’s benefits.

Through SAMHSA, the federal government awards block grants directly to drug rehab centers and programs throughout the U.S. that provide free or low-cost treatment services to patients. Rehab centers must apply for grant funds themselves, and only domestic and private non-profit entities are eligible. More information on SAMHSA federal grants for substance abuse treatment can be found here.

Washington is not the only source of government funding for drug and alcohol rehab services. In fact, the bulk of funding for treatment comes from state and local governments. How these funding resources are used is normally determined by specific state agencies, such as the courts, departments of correction, and child protective services. In addition, individual states often fund their own affordable rehab centers to help those in the greatest need. Eligibility requirements vary by state, but typically include proof of legal U.S. and state residence, and proof of income status. State-funded affordable drug rehab programs are often overburdened, and individuals may be placed on a waiting list for treatment or receive outpatient services while waiting for an inpatient program to become available. Contact your state’s agency in charge of substance abuse services to learn more.

Affordable drug rehab services are available to veterans both through TRICARE and the Veterans Administration. TRICARE is the main healthcare program that provides civilian health benefits to U.S. military personnel and their dependents, and for military retirees. A wide range of drug and alcohol treatment services are accessible to TRICARE beneficiaries. Drug and alcohol treatment services are also available to eligible veterans through the VA’s Alcohol and Drug Dependence Rehabilitation Program. Veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system (or qualify for one of its exceptions) and, in most cases, not have been dishonorably discharged. For more information on VA benefits, call 1-877-222-8387, or contact the nearest VA medical facility.

Funds are available for substance abuse treatment at over 800 affordable rehab centers to members of federally-recognized Native American Tribes and Alaska Natives through the Indian Health Service (IHS). To locate an IHS facility, go here.

Affordable drug rehab services are offered by thousands of non-profit and charitable organizations, both faith-based and secular. A good example is the Salvation Army which currently operates over 100 Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARC) throughout the United States. To learn more about ARC’s addiction recovery programs, contact your local Salvation Army location or go here to search for an ARC near you. A great resource for locating other charitable and non-profit organizations providing alcohol and substance abuse services is this GuideStar directory of IRS-recognized organizations. You can also contact your state’s department of health services for more information.

Many for-profit and some non-profit drug rehab centers offer scholarships that help pay for treatment at their facilities to patients who are both in financial need and demonstrate a strong commitment to the rehabilitation process. Scholarships may cover all or a portion of treatment costs depending on the specific rehab center and specific scholarship program. Application for a drug rehab scholarship is made with the treatment center itself. To find out about scholarship availability and eligibility requirements, contact the treatment center directly.

Most for-profit and non-profit rehab providers additionally offer a range of options geared to making affordable rehab a reality to low-income clients. Common options include sliding fee scales and low-interest loans. The sliding fee scale option allows the client to pay less than the full amount of their treatment cost based on a number of factors, such as the client’s income, family size, family and personal expenses, and outstanding debt. Rehab centers may also have agreements with outside lenders to provide low-interest loans to clients to help pay for treatment. Be sure to ask about these and other available payment options when contacting rehab centers under consideration.