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How to Pay for Substance Abuse Treatment

How to Pay for Substance Abuse Treatment

Some estimates put the number of people dealing with an addiction to drugs and alcohol at 15 million in the U.S. alone. Every year only about 5% of the people who need help actually get it. One of the simple reasons for this is that going to drug rehab costs a lot of money, that many in the grips of an addiction do not have to pay for upfront. This should not stop you from seeking out treatment. Here are some options if you or someone you love needs help but cannot afford it. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the government agency that funds and oversees addiction and mental health research and treatment. They offer a 24-hour helpline that can assist you in finding a treatment facility near you and can talk with you about payment options as well. They can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).  This line does not provide counseling or dispatch funds, but they can help point you in the right direction to get the help you need. 

SAMHSA also provides what are called federal block grants to the states to help pay for substance abuse treatment for those who cannot afford it. This goes often to high risk groups first and funds may be limited so it may not be an automatic qualification based on income alone. As each state manages the funds in a different way, talk to the treatment provider you have selected about accessing federal substance abuse block grant funds to help pay for your treatment. It may end up being fully covered. 

Medicaid and Medicare may be other options to explore. If your income is low enough, or you are old enough to qualify for Medicare, then those insurances may also cover your addiction treatment as well. When it comes to insurances, there may be copays and deductibles that need to be met, so talk with your insurance provider or the treatment staff about this first, before you enter into treatment. It is usually in your best interest to talk about these things upfront so there are no complications while you are working on getting healthy. Some states may combine SAMHSA block grants and have Medicaid/Medicare oversee them, so you may have to apply for assistance by qualifying for this. 

State and local governments also help fund substance abuse treatment and provide funding either directly to the treatment program to help people pay for it, in the form of scholarships, or they have programs that you can qualify for to help you pay for treatment. Often state and local funds are tied to programs, like child protective services, giving parents a way to help keep their families together by entering into treatment, which protective service would pay for. Another example would be court ordered treatment as part of a criminal conviction; the court system will have funds available to pay for the treatment if you are unable to pay for it. It may end up that having the courts or other agencies involved in the addict's life is a good thing by helping them get the treatment they need. 

Insurances, especially after passing of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) have to provide a wider range of coverage and cannot discriminate against pre-existing conditions, like addiction, as they had prior to its passage. The mental health parity laws also mandate more coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment, so your insurance provider may cover some or all of the cost of your treatment. Talk with them about your coverage, and any in network providers that may be more economical for you. 

Always talk with the treatment providers about cost, know what they all are, and what you are responsible for upfront. Do not wait until you are in treatment to start talking about money. If it is an agency, they may have other options for payment that are not listed here, like local grants that can cover you, or even simple payment plans that can assist you in getting the help you need.   

OpenCounseling can also be of service here. Look though our listing of counselors in your area to see if any can meet your needs and still be affordable to you.  

Addiction is a nationwide crisis right now and is almost an epidemic. Do not let thoughts of the cost stop you from looking into substance abuse treatment. There are options. Hope is out there. 



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Jason Simpkins
Posted on 06/01/2018 by Jason Simpkins

Jason Simpkins is a writer at Open Counseling. He is a clinical social worker in Michigan and is dedicated to having quality mental health care available to everyone. And as a University of Michigan graduate, he says a hearty, Go Blue!