Determining how to pay for drug and alcohol treatment it is a major concern for those seeking treatment. Studies show that close to 40% of people who believe they need treatment don’t seek it out because they don’t think they can afford it (SAMHSA).
The fact is, there are a lot of low-cost or even free options for drug and alcohol rehab programs. In fact, there are far more low-cost facilities in the United States than people are aware of, in part due to the fact that higher-end facilities can spend more on marketing. It’s important to understand that low-cost options are just as available, effective, and accessible as other options.
Here are a few important things to know about payment-assisted rehab programs:
1. Payment-assisted programs can be just as good as luxury programs
When looking into treatment, you may notice an emphasis on luxury rehab programs. It may seem like there are more luxury programs, and you may believe they’re better because they’re upscale.
This is not true. The quality of a rehab program has far more to do with your personal commitment to the process; the quality of the therapists and other health professionals in the program; and that the elements of the program fit you and your circumstances (i.e. inpatient vs. outpatient, proximity to home). These factors are more important than whether the facility is located in a beautiful setting.
The fact is, there are plenty of high-quality, low-cost programs. Some accept insurance. Others are government-run or non-profit organizations that are heavily subsidized, so you don’t pay the full price (and don’t need insurance). Still others operate on a sliding scale, such that you only pay what you can realistically afford. In some cases, sliding scale facilities will look at your pay stubs, and take into account whether you have dependents, etc.
Whatever the case, know that there are lots of very good options for low-cost and/or payment-assisted drug and alcohol rehab programs.
2. Payment-assisted programs sometimes have longer wait times
One reason private rehab facilities have grown in popularity is that there is often a wait time to enter a payment-assisted drug and alcohol rehab program. In fact, waiting for a low-cost rehab program can take as long as six months. Private facilities, on the other hand (mid- to high-cost) can start the intake process within hours or the following day, depending on the situation. This is something to keep in mind when exploring your options.
3. There are options even if you don’t have insurance
If you have health insurance, you may be able to find treatment coverage through your carrier. Many private insurance policies cover at least a percentage of substance abuse treatment. The best thing to do is contact your insurance company to understand how much coverage you have and what, if any, conditions apply.
4. If you’re low-income and uninsured, you should look at Medicaid
If you don’t have insurance but don’t earn very much, you may qualify for Medicaid. You’ll also likely qualify if you’re pregnant, disabled, blind, or aged.
The rules for counting your income and resources vary by state and by group. In many states, you must be above a certain age and below a certain income to qualify. When you apply for Medicaid, your income and resources will be evaluated (i.e. bank accounts, property, and other items that could be sold for cash); as well as whether you are a U.S. citizen or legal immigrant.
In general, it’s a good idea to apply for Medicaid if you have a low income and you match one the descriptions of one of the Medicaid Eligibility Groups. Even if you’re not sure you qualify, if you or a loved one needs treatment and can’t afford it, it’s smart to apply for Medicaid and allow a qualified caseworker to look at your situation.
5. If you’re elderly, you should look at Medicare
6. If you’re connected to the military, your military insurance may cover addiction treatment
If you are a veteran and/or are covered by military insurance, you may qualify for substance abuse treatment coverage.
The Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act passed by Congress in 1996 means the Medical Benefits Package plan is available to all veterans who are enrolled in it. This package includes preventive as well as primary care, which includes both outpatient and inpatient drug rehabilitation services.
If you are a veteran who has developed drug or alcohol addiction problems, you may be eligible to receive treatment. Enroll with the VA to start the process.