Paying for Treatment

scarfOnce parents understand and accept the fact that their teens will need help in order to overcome an addiction, and that the help is best provided within a formal addiction rehab program, they’ll be faced with yet another important question: How will they pay for care? Rehab programs can provide intensive help, but that care does come at a price, and navigating the options can be a bit of a challenge. This article will outline how some parents have dealt with the issue, and this could be reassuring for those parents who haven’t yet determined how they’ll pay for the care their children need.

The Cost of Care

Addiction treatment costs can vary dramatically, based on factors such as:

  • Length of time in treatment
  • Services provided
  • Intensity of care given
  • Location of the treatment facility
  • Amenities offered

A study of the cost of outpatient care for marijuana addiction, published in the journal Addiction in 2002, found that programs ranged from $878 to $3,334 per episode, just demonstrating how much variation is involved when it comes to price. As a result, very few programs outline their charges in a public place like a website. There are no set prices, so sharing the costs with the community can be difficult. Parents will need to ask, and they might need to be content with an estimate, rather than a hard figure. As the treatment moves forward, the treatment facility should keep parents abreast of the cost, updating them with new information as it becomes available.

Using Insurance

The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that there are 8.3 million children in the United States who lack adequate insurance coverage, and of that number, more than 25 percent are adolescents. Families like this obviously cannot rely on insurance programs to pick up the cost of care, but those who do have insurance plans may have a good avenue to explore as they look for ways to help their children.

A call to the insurance plan can help parents understand how the policy might work. Some programs may have tight restrictions on the kinds of care they will cover, and others might require families to obtain a referral before they enroll the child in care. Still other programs might authorize payments only if families use a specific provider. If the family has already selected a provider, that facility might be willing to handle these issues and take the burden away from the family, making calls, arranging paperwork and ensuring that all goes well. Even if parents have insurance, they might still be asked to make copayments to cover part of the cost of care. These fees should be specified well in advance, so families aren’t surprised when the bills begin to arrive.

Low-Cost Options

Some facilities offer their services on a sliding scale, charging families fees based on their ability to pay. Facilities might offer these services on an ask-only basis, meaning they don’t advertise the fact publically. Families with low incomes should feel comfortable asking for payment help, as necessary, to ensure that their children get the help they’ll need.

State-owned facilities or other public treatment programs sometimes offer therapies at no cost to people who live in the community. These can be excellent choices for families who simply cannot pay for treatment, but these facilities might also have very long waiting lists for care. Addictions can deplete family fortunes, and some people don’t get help until they’ve completely eliminated all bank accounts, savings accounts and lines of credit. They still need help, but they need to rely on public assistance, and there are many people who fall into this camp. Those families who are forced to wait should ask about how they might protect their child from using drugs while the delay is in place. Perhaps counseling sessions or medications could play a role in keeping the child sober while the family waits for help.

At Muir Wood, we work hard to ensure that our clients understand their payment options, and we’re willing to work with insurance plans if families ask us to do so. If you have any questions at all about how you’ll pay for care for your addicted son, we’re happy to answer them for you. Please call us, or download our admissions packet for more information.

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