Insurance for drug rehab & alcoholism treatment

Does insurance cover drug or alcohol rehab? Sometimes, yes. But at $7K a month on top of an annual bill of $15K+ for family health insurance, how can the typical American pay for drug rehab via health insurance? We explore here.

minute read

Group insurance plans can help pay for inpatient drug and alcohol treatment. But what about private insurance plans? How can drug rehab become an option for all Americans? We explore the numbers behind health insurance for drug or alcohol addiction here.

Health insurance for addiction rehabilitation

Although celebrities are the public face of substance addiction in the United States, the truth is that 70 percent of the people who struggle with alcohol and drug problems are working people. Oddly enough, this fact is to their benefit, but many don’t know it. How do we sort out the best guide to drug rehab in times of financial insecurity?

Rehab is expensive and potentially lengthy

When is alcohol rehab necessary?  When you can’t quit alcohol or drugs on your own.  But some addiction sufferers report that they have not sought insurance benefits out of a sense of guilt because they are the cause of their own problems. But failing to see addiction as a disease in need of treatment is a costly mistake. Ignoring the devastating health consequences of addiction not only raises the specter of higher medical bills in the future, but also the real possibility of an early death. So how much does rehab really cost?

The cost of rehab for an in-patient program averages as much as $7,000 a month according to the National Substance Abuse Treatment Services Study. But addiction recovery rarely takes as little as 30 days. Instead,a 90-day course of treatment tends to be the norm. And given that relapses are also typical, in some cases, the total cost of rehabilitation can total $75,000.

So can Americans afford drug rehab?

In a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2011, statistics showed the average annual health premium for a family whose coverage was provided as a work benefit was $15,073. That represented an escalation of 9% over 2010 figures. For a family struggling to meet a $15,000 annual insurance bill in an economy plagued by four years of recession and high unemployment, the additional cost of rehab treatment is untenable. In the face of addiction, accessing the health benefits that are a legal and viable part of existing job-related coverage is not just a right, but a necessity.

Does insurance cover drug rehab?

Yes. In fact, many group insurance plans cover addiction rehab costs. For people facing issues with addiction, shame and fear of job loss often prevent them from using the benefits to which they are entitled. However, The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires that health insurance providers make the limits for drug and alcohol treatment on group plans equal to those applied to “standard” medical treatment under certain circumstances.

The law extended rehab coverage to about 100 million workers, but only if their group plans had existing provisions for mental health services. Still, there are large numbers of working people in this country who actually can draw on benefits to help with their recovery. Those monies, when available, typically cover programs for detoxification, group and individual outpatient care, inpatient hospitalization, day programs, and long-term residential treatment.

Addicts with private insurance or no coverage

For the unemployed, or anyone faced with buying private health insurance at even higher rates, rehab coverage is often not an option. Consequently, public assistance programs are strained to the breaking point and many people are not getting the help they need. This fact makes the survival of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court all the more crucial.

Among its many provisions, the Affordable Care Act extends parity for mental health and rehab services to all insured workers, increases the available Medicaid benefits, and requires all plans offered through health-insurance exchanges to include mental health and rehab coverage. Without this vital assistance, countless addicts will continue to suffer in silence with no access to the care they need.

How can we pay for addiction rehab?

What do you think? Should the cost for mental healthcare become a public issue? Can only those who are covered in group plans continue to receive benefits for drug or alcohol rehab? Should rehabs offer sliding scale fees? How can drug and alcohol addiction treatment become accessible to all Americans? Your opinions, comments and input are welcomed here.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
I am ready to call
i Who Answers?