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Does Insurance Pay for Therapy & Drug Counseling

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Will Insurance Cover Drug Counseling?

For the 8.6 percent of the American population who needed substance abuse treatment in 2013, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, just 0.9 percent received it.1 A large portion of those who didn’t get treatment cited an inability to pay for treatment as the reason.

Typically, health insurance pays for drug counseling and other forms of behavioral therapy. The Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance companies offer some type of coverage for substance abuse treatment, but these laws apply only to the plans in the marketplace and coverage can vary widely. Consider asking your insurance provider directly about your coverage options and the copayments involved with the drug counseling you are considering.

What is Drug Counseling?

Drug counseling is a process of helping people with substance abuse issues to overcome their addictions and understand the root causes of them. Counselors are professionals who are trained to deal with the multitude of complex problems that addiction can bring up.

Drug Counseling

Drug counseling is something many who struggle with addiction need to revisit throughout recovery. It doesn’t necessarily need to be rendered at a treatment facility though. Drug and alcohol abuse counselors are employed as therapists and mental health professionals at local health departments, and they frequently have their own private offices.

Some individuals who need drug counseling need help for poly-drug abuse. Secondary drug abuse is most common alongside alcohol abuse. Among the 1,749,767 people admitted to rehab in 2012, 306,753 were abusing alcohol along with other substances, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Drug and alcohol counselors do not normally screen for and diagnose mental health disorders, but they can report their findings to therapists and psychiatrists who are capable of rendering such diagnoses.

For those with mental health symptoms, drug counseling helps them to comprehend how symptoms like depression and anxiety may have led them to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Once individuals understand why they engaged in substance abuse in the first place, they have a better chance at resisting triggers to use or drink again and sustaining sobriety.

In addition, the ACA made a strong push for Medicaid to expand treatment coverage options, too, which the Kaiser Family Foundation reports it has in 32 states.3 As a result, 80 million Americans were covered by Medicaid in 2014, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.4 Nationwide, there are 11,988 facilities that treat substance abuse and addiction, per SAMHSA.5 Among them, 7,146 accept Medicaid and 7,976 accept private insurance plans.

Insurance coverage varies widely depending on an individual’s policy. Some people may benefit from full coverage for drug counseling while others have to pay a significant portion of their treatment costs. The Kaiser Family Foundation states the average monthly health insurance premium for one person in 2013 was $235.37.6 A middle-of-the-road plan will typically cover around 80 percent of an individual’s healthcare costs, but it’s important to verify drug counseling coverage prior to committing to a specific treatment regime.

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More Topics on Paying for Treatment


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse and Drug Addiction. (n./a.) Trends and Statistics.
  2. National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services. (2014). Treatment Episode Data Set (2002-2012).
  3. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2020). Status of State Action on the Medicaid Expansion Decision. (2020). 
  4. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (2020). Policy Basics: Introduction to Medicaid. 
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Find Treatment.
  6. Kaiser Family Foundation. (2020). Health Reform.
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