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How to Pay for Drug and Alcohol Treatment

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The cost of substance use treatment can be high, but the good news is that there are a number of detox and rehab payment options that can make it more affordable. This page will help answer some questions about how much detox costs, different way to pay for it, how insurance can help, and what to do if you don’t have insurance.

How Much Does Detox Cost?

The cost of detox depends on many factors, including:

  • The type of care you need.
  • The treatment setting, or where you get care.
  • What type of insurance you have.
  • How long you stay in treatment.

Detox is often the first step of treatment. And while it helps clear substances from the body, it doesn’t address the underlying thoughts and behaviors that led to substance use in the first place.1–3 Medical detox uses medicines to manage withdrawal symptoms, and can take place on an inpatient or outpatient basis. During inpatient treatment, you live at a treatment center for the length of treatment and get 24-hour care. In outpatient treatment, you attend scheduled treatment sessions and go home at night.1,2,4

After detox, many people continue their recovery with other treatment options.1 The right treatment will depend on your needs and any other physical or mental health issues you may have. Options include but are not limited to inpatient or residential rehab, outpatient rehab, and mutual support groups.1–3

Detox and Rehab Payment Options

Detox and rehab can be expensive, but there are ways to pay for it whether you have health insurance or not. If you have health insurance, going to a treatment center that accepts your insurance plan will often cost less than a center that’s out of network. If you don’t have health insurance, you still have options for low-cost treatment. These will be explained in more detail below.

Paying for Treatment with Insurance

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most insurance plans have to cover substance use treatment as an essential health benefit. The ACA also made insurance coverage a little easier to get.2,7–9

Health insurance falls into two broad categories: private or public.6 You can get private health insurance:5

  • Through your workplace or union.
  • Directly from an insurance company or marketplace.
  • From TRICARE, which insures veterans and their families.

Public health insurance comes from government-funded programs: 5

  • Medicare covers people age 65 and older, or younger people with disabilities.
  • Medicaid, which covers low-income families, pregnant people, and people with disabilities.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers health benefits for veterans.

Your insurance coverage may limit your treatment choices. Not all treatment centers take public insurance, and many insurance plans may only cover treatment if it’s with someone who is in-network. In most cases, treatment centers can tell you if they take your insurance and help you understand the costs involved with attending treatment. You can also contact your insurance company to confirm your benefits and learn more about what they cover and any deductibles or out-of-pocket costs you will have to pay.

How Can I Get Drug or Alcohol Treatment without Insurance?

If you don’t have insurance, don’t worry. There are still other ways to get the treatment you need. Most treatment centers accept patients who cover the cost of their treatment out of pocket. You may also be able to apply for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Some treatment centers offer grants or scholarships that cover much or all of the cost of care. Some may also offer options to finance treatment or adjust the cost on a sliding scale according to your income.10 Nonprofit and state-funded rehabs offer low-cost or free treatment to people who are uninsured or who can’t afford treatment.2,10 Finally, the VA offers treatment options for enrolled veterans, even if they don’t have outside insurance.

Who Pays for Detox and Rehab?

Paying for treatment depends on whether you have insurance or not. In general, if you have health insurance, your insurance will pay for at least some of the cost. But you may have to pay co-pays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket expenses. Check with your insurance company to know for sure what they will and won’t pay for. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll need to pay for the full cost of treatment unless you make use of one of the options listed above.

Veterans Affairs

The VA offers treatment for substance use disorders.12 Services differ based on your needs, but may include detox, counseling, outpatient services, and self-help groups.12 To use these services, you’ll need to be enrolled in VA healthcare benefits.12 If you are a veteran and don’t have VA health benefits, you may still be able to get free counseling services at a community Vet Center.12

Sources

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (3rd edition).
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Facing addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s report on alcohol, drugs, and health. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Treatment approaches for drug addiction.
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Tip 45: Detoxification and substance abuse treatment.
  5. United States Census Bureau. (2020). Health insurance coverage in the United States: 2019.
  6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2019). Medicare coverage of substance abuse services.
  7. Abraham, A.J., Andrews, C.M., Grogan, C.M, D’Aunno, T., Humphreys, K.N., Pollack, H.A., Friedmann, P.D. (2017). The Affordable Care Act transformation of substance use disorder treatment. American Journal of Public Health, 107(1), 31-32.
  8. Healthcare.gov. Mental health & substance abuse coverage.
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Behavioral health treatments and services.
  10. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Paying for treatment.
  11. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2000). Tip 38: Integrating substance abuse treatment and vocational services.
  12. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020). Substance use treatment for veterans.

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