It’s estimated that two-thirds of the world’s supply of illicit drugs are consumed in the U.S., a country that accounts for just 5 percent of the global population.1 At any given moment, only about 11 percent of people addicted to alcohol or drugs are receiving any type of treatment.2 In the face of these two facts, one possible conclusion is that so few addicts are in treatment because there’s a shortage of addiction treatment options available to Americans suffering from substance use problems. But in reality, there are more than 14,000 addiction treatment facilities located throughout the country. So treatment availability doesn’t appear to be a major problem.
There are a number of reasons why an addict might choose not to seek treatment, but one of the most prohibitive factors has historically been the high cost of treatment. Most people would find it challenging to gather enough cash to pay for any type of healthcare services no matter how badly it’s needed. The cost of addiction treatment can vary considerably depending on factors like the type of program, the location of the facility and the specific methods of treatment offered.
Some people may resign themselves to remaining in active addiction because they assume they wouldn’t be able to pay for a rehabilitation program. Fortunately, the cost of treatment is much less prohibitive today than it has been in the past. In fact, there are a number of options available to cover the cost of treatment, even for those who aren’t able to pay out of pocket.
Health Insurance and Medicaid
For most people, the preferred method of funding addiction treatment would be for it to be covered by a health insurance plan. It’s only relatively recently that this has become an option at all. Prior to the passing of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, or ACA, in 2010, addiction treatment wasn’t considered one of the essential benefits of a health insurance plan.3 The ability of health insurance plans to cover most or even all the cost of an addiction recovery plan has been a major benefit to addicts with health insurance. For those individuals without health insurance, Medicaid could provide another option. It offers coverage for screenings, intervention, maintenance drugs, counseling, inpatient and long-term rehabs, detox, and outpatient treatment. In many states, Medicaid doesn’t even require a copayment.
Help from Loved Ones
If health insurance and Medicaid aren’t options, another possible strategy would be to ask loved ones for financial help. Of course, it can be tricky to navigate this scenario if the addict has borrowed or stolen money from his or her loved ones over the course of addiction. However, many addicts will find their loved ones to be extremely supportive of the desire to get sober and would likely want to show support in whatever way they could.
Flexible Payment Options
With addiction treatment programs often costing tens of thousands of dollars, it shouldn’t be that surprising that more and more facilities are now offering flexible payment options. For instance, it’s common for treatment facilities to allow the cost of treatment to be paid in installments rather than requiring the entire amount be paid up front. Alternately, some facilities are offering what’s known as a sliding scale, which means that the cost of treatment is adjusted in proportion to a patient’s ability to pay. In other words, the facility would consider a patient’s income to judge how much he or she is able to pay.
Most people associate crowdfunding with Kickstarter and similar online venues where people can contribute to various causes or projects that they feel passionate about. People like to feel connected to others and want their actions to make a positive difference in the world. Similarly, crowdfunding can be used as a means of seeking funds for one’s addiction treatment. For instance, websites like YouCaring4 provide a platform for individuals to receive crowdfunding specifically for their addiction treatment. Alternately, one could put together a simple website to explain his or her background and desire to overcome addiction while supplying a link to a PayPal account for donations.
Borrowing from a Retirement Fund
Anyone with full-time employment in his or her work history is likely to have amassed some type of retirement fund. More often than not, this means having some type of 401K option built into one’s employment benefits with small amounts of each period’s pay being added to an investment fund. Although it’s not an option that’s very well-known, many employer-sponsored retirement funds allow you to make withdrawals in the form of loans. Remember that the amount that’s withdrawn must usually be paid back unless the retirement fund is cashed out completely. Traditionally, only about ten percent of people with retirement funds make withdrawals from them prematurely, but this figure has increased to 17 percent for millennials.5
Credit and Financing
For most people, borrowing from family members is going to be preferable to borrowing from banks and creditors, but this could be a last resort. If credit cards don’t offer enough credit, you could look into other financing options such as loans. In most cases, one’s own bank will offer the most financing and best rates. However, there are also a number of institutions — such as Prosper Healthcare Lending6 and My Treatment Lender7 — that provide financing specifically for addiction treatment and healthcare-related expenses. These loans are often tailored to the needs of individuals going into treatment and might include features like deferred payments and graduated payment plans. In addition, there are credit cards that are similarly targeted for healthcare expenses such as Care Credit.8
Scholarships and Grants
Another option may be scholarships and grants that can provide financial assistance to individuals looking for addiction treatment. Best of all, scholarships and grants don’t have to be paid back. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers information about federal and state-offered grants, including any criteria for consideration and how to apply.9 Scholarships, by comparison, tend to be more local and are often offered at the discretion of individual treatment programs. Most programs have a specific amount of money they can award to incoming patients in the form of scholarships each year. They may seem harder to track down, but the best way to find scholarships is to simply contact the treatment centers in which you’re most interested and ask what types of scholarship programs they offer.
The prospect of recovery can seem daunting, so it’s important that finding and funding treatment involves as little stress as possible. Part of the reason why so few addicts are in treatment is because rehab is perceived to have such a high price tag. But paying out of pocket isn’t the only way to cover the cost. With so many versatile payment options available, financial questions shouldn’t stand in the way of addicts getting the help that they need.