How to Pay for Alcohol Treatment

How can I pay for alcohol treatment?

There are a variety of different methods you could use, including insurance, private pay, and personal loans. Visit with your rehab provider to discuss your options and learn more about what might be right for you and your family.

Families that decide to accept the help that an alcoholism treatment plan can offer are investing in the future health, wellbeing, and success of their families, both now and in the years to come.  

But alcoholism rehab is an investment, and the cost of that investment can sometimes be a little steep. That means families will need to make this decision in much the same way that they would approach any other decision of consequence. Families cannot or should not just leap into a decision. They can and should investigate all payment options open to them, so they can make a choice that is best for the entire family.

There are various choices, as most facilities provide a number of different payment avenues. These are just a few of the options families can consider.


insurance At one point, insurance plan administrators could decide whether or not to offer alcoholism rehab benefits. The passage of the Affordable Care Act changed that. Now, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, insurance companies are required to consider addiction services as part of the essential medical benefits that simply must be covered, so people cannot choose to provide or skip those services. All of those services must be covered, and the Act requires all people to have insurance coverage or pay a penalty.

As a result of these two factors, many people who enter alcoholism treatment programs have insurance coverage, and the plans they have provide benefits for addiction care. It makes sense, then, to use insurance to pay for rehab, but there are some issues to consider.

Some insurance providers keep costs down by pulling together lists of approved providers. These approved providers accept a smaller payment in return for the promise of clients. That way, the insurance company pays less overall, but the provider tends to make money. It is good for business, but it is not always good for consumers. Some people cannot use the providers they want to use, as their providers are not approved by their insurance companies.

Insurance plans can also come with some hidden costs. For example, in an analysis by Southern California Public Radio, a woman carried a health plan with a deductible of $10,000. If she chose providers that were not approved by her insurance company, she had to pay a higher percentage of those fees. All of those issues made a health problem cost her close to $15,000.

Cash or Private Pay

Families that choose to pay for care out of pocket can avoid some of these hassles. They will not need to clear their choice of provider through a third party, and they may not have to worry about hidden fees, and unusual and uncovered expenses. They can negotiate the cost of care, and sometimes, they can get good deals in the process.

As an analysis by the LA Times discovered, many health providers offer deep discounts to families that agree to pay for care with cash. In the example cited in this article, a hospital charged an insurance plan about $2,400 for a procedure. Families choosing to pay cash, on the other hand, could expect to see a bill for just $250.

While most people might believe that they have advanced personal finance skills, the sad fact is that issues of finance and money elude most people. In fact, in an article highlighted by The Atlantic, reporters asked people all around the world to answer three basic questions about economics. They found that only 30 percent of Americans got all the answers right. Families that do not understand their options fully, at least at first, are certainly not alone.

But a study cited by CNBC suggests that more than 60 percent of Americans do not have enough money to handle common emergencies, including medical expenses. These are families that are living from one paycheck to the next, and they do not have the buffer of cash in savings that could allow them to cover rehab costs. They may want to pay in cash, but they may be unable to do so.

Personal Loans

For families that want the flexibility of cash, but who cannot scrape up the cash to make payments, personal loans may be a good option. Families that take up this plan may be able to get a cash discount from the provider, but they may have to pay interest rates in order to pay the loan back.

When people think about quick loans for a sudden expense, they often think about so-called payday loan providers that set up shop in strip malls and offer credit to almost anyone who walks through the doors. The Pew Charitable Trusts suggests that usage rates in some states are as high as 13 percent, which means that a lot of people take advantage of these types of loans, but they can come with some deep drawbacks.

Most payday loans come with very high fees, and they may also come with incredibly steep interest rates. A person taking a loan like this may end up shouldering a great deal of debt in no time, and as the costs pile up, paying the loan back can be hard.

Thankfully, no one is advocating the use of payday loans for rehab. After all, treatment providers want to reduce the stress a family feels, not augment it. As a result, many treatment providers have relationships with banks and credit unions that can offer loans to people in need without the very high fees associated with a payday loan.

In an analysis of these small, personal loans, NerdWallet found even the most expensive private lender ended up costing borrowers less than typical payday loan providers. Even people with poor or missing credit histories could get these loans, the reporters found. So there is no need for a family to head to a payday loan provider for help. A private lender may be able to do a better job.

These are debts, and families will need to pay them back with interest, so they are not a form of free money for addiction care. Keeping those overall costs in mind is wise.

Where to Start

While most people might believe that they have advanced personal finance skills, the sad fact is that issues of finance and money elude most people. In fact, in an article highlighted by The Atlantic, reporters asked people all around the world to answer three basic questions about economics. They found that only 30 percent of Americans got all the answers right. Families that do not understand their options fully, at least at first, are certainly not alone.

Thankfully, they do not need to make decisions alone, either. When families have chosen a treatment provider, they are often connected with a member of that facility’s finance or admissions team. That professional can help families to:

  • Parse insurance details
  • Understand underlying costs
  • Apply for loans with loan partners
  • Stay abreast of charges as they appear

By utilizing this help, families can understand what they are asked to pay, and they can make better decisions about what they should do to cover those expenses in the future.

Families that want to use this issue as an opportunity for future economic healing can lean on credit counseling organizations. According to the Federal Trade Commission, a reputable credit counseling organization can help families to understand all the debts they have right now, and they can offer free educational materials and workshops so families can manage that debt in a more effective manner. In some cases, credit counseling agencies can even contact past debtors and make arrangements, so the family’s overall debt load can be reduced.

Some families also have peers they can lean on for additional support. Distant relatives like uncles or cousins may have a good understanding of personal finance and money management, and they may be able to provide advice on good options to try. Someone like this might be able to take the entire planning process over, so the family has one less issue to parse.

Staying Abreast

In most cases, alcoholism rehab treatment billing will be relatively straightforward. The person who needs care will get that care, and the family and/or the insurance company will get bills that reflect the costs associated with that care. Families will need to read those bills and pay attention to the details, so they can avoid additional charges.

A report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that many families deal with devastating losses due to health issues. Sometimes, those losses come in the form of bills that are hard to pay. Sometimes, those losses come in terms of lost work hours due to the illness. And sometimes, the sheer volume of bills that arrive can leave family members too shaken and worried to attend to the details of everyday life.

During alcoholism recovery, every single person in the family has an opportunity for growth and healing. Medical bills should not impede those changes. Families worried, lost, or just confused can reach out to the treatment provider for more assistance. Sometimes, switching the person to a different type of alcoholism care could help to alleviate the issue.

For example, a person participating in an inpatient alcoholism program might be asked to pay hundreds of dollars per day more than someone participating in outpatient care. If the person’s recovery has achieved a certain level, that person might be able to step down to outpatient care, and that might make bills easier to pay.

A family that has used up all insurance benefits on care might benefit from meeting with a loan provider, so the treatment can continue without costing the family money they need for daily expenses. Families that choose one option can always choose a different option midstream. They just need to ask for that shift. Treatment teams would be happy to accommodate that, if it keeps the person with alcoholism in programs that can help.

Treatment teams believe in recovery, and they want to see it happen. They will help families navigate how to pay for care, so the person with alcoholism has the best chance at achieving a healthy and lasting recovery. What families need to do is to ask for that help and get the process started. Within a few days or weeks, they could have all the answers they need. They might see the beginnings of recovery begin to appear. It just takes a conversation, and it should start now.

Last updated on October 13, 20182018-10-13T10:40:52
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