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Low on Funds? How to Pay for Addiction Treatment

The cost of drug addiction treatment programs is very often cited as one of the top obstacles to connecting with treatment. When drug rehab programs that are funded by the state or federal government are full, or the family makes too much to qualify for assistance and the family is in financial crisis after living through addiction, coming up with the funds to pay for treatment can feel like a huge task.

The good news is that treatment is financially accessible to all who are in need. In most cases, it is a matter of knowing what your resources are and taking the time to pull from each one to ultimately end up with the total cost of the bill. Here’s what you need to know.

Low on Funds? How to Pay for Addiction Treatment


Health Insurance

The first place that families can look when seeking the funds to pay for treatment should be their health insurance policy. The Affordable Care Act holds that insurance policies should cover the cost of mental health and substance abuse treatment as easily as they cover the costs of medical care. Unfortunately, the reality is that despite this law, coverage is not always easy to come by. Many providers ask that your physician provide proof of “medical necessity” before approving coverage for certain services beyond basic detox and short-term outpatient care. Some require without exception that all people heading into drug rehab for the first time undergo outpatient care first as a matter of course. It all depends on your insurance company, but it also depends on the drug rehab you choose and their ability to assist you in this process.

  • Call your insurance provider and know what they cover.
  • Read your policy and challenge anything that does not meet standards set by law.
  • Talk to the drug rehab program you choose and ask them to work with your insurance and provide you with advice on how to manage the situation.


Savings

Addiction has a way of wiping out a family’s financial resources – the longer the addiction, the more extensive the damage. Many families are struggling with debt and have no savings to speak of, while others have managed to maintain a college fund or retirement fund separate from the household income. Depending on your current financial situation, you may be able to find at least part of the cost of treatment, if not all of it, in your budget, or create a plan to save up for part of the cost as quickly as possible.

  • Consider allocating part of a fund dedicated to another cause for the purposes of paying for all or part of treatment.
  • Create a budget, writing down all that the family spends in a month, and look for expenses that can be cut and reallocated to treatment costs.
  • Look around the house and see if there are any items – unwanted sports equipment, furniture, other household items, etc. – that could be sold to help support the cause.
  • Consider taking on a part-time job or extra hours at work to bulk up the amount you have set aside for treatment.


Financing

Almost all families who do not have the cash on hand to pay for treatment – and that is almost everyone – opts to finance all or part of the cost of drug rehab. This is a convenient answer to the problem because (1) it facilitates immediate entry into treatment without waiting to deal with insurance companies or save up the cash, and (2) it adds a payment that fits into the family budget that can be paid off comfortably over time.

In some cases, a drug rehab program may have billing options available to families who would like to go this route. In most cases, however, they may be able to refer you to companies they have worked with in the past. In these cases, you, the rehabilitation program, and the financing company can work together to determine what sum is needed and create a repayment plan that will work.

  • Even if the drug rehab you choose offers financing options, take the time to shop around and make sure you are getting a good deal on interest rates.
  • Try to keep the financing amount as low as possible in order to keep your payments low.
  • Consider the option of borrowing from family members who offer to assist. You can create a legal agreement and repay them according to that agreement.


Where to Begin

Figuring out how to pay for treatment does not need to be overwhelming. At the drug rehab you have chosen, you can speak to a financial counselor on how best to approach the process and where to start. They should let you know how they can assist and give you a timeline that will guide you. Make sure you ask any questions you have, starting with:

  • Do you work with my insurance?
  • Do I need to call my insurance provider or will you?
  • Do you require a deposit to begin or the entire cost of treatment?
  • How will it be handled if further costs are incurred or if my family member needs to stay in treatment longer than expected?
  • What do you and my insurance company need from my doctor, if anything?
  • Do you offer financing options, and if not, do you recommend anyone that I can speak to about financing the cost of treatment?
  • How can we move the process along as quickly as possible so my family member can start treatment?

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