Medically Reviewed

The Cost to Attend an IOP

3 min read · 3 sections

Professional substance abuse treatment is instrumental in moving someone from a state of addiction and physical dependence towards a place of recovery and wellness.1 Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) represent an important level of care on the continuum of treatment options.

As with any treatment for a medical or mental health issue, cost is a major concern for many people, if not the biggest concern. Before considering the cost of an IOP, remember that any fee for addiction treatment is only a general figure and the specific cost will be unique to the facility. The cost for one day of IOP treatment often ranges from $250 to $350 per day.2 The cost of the program you attend could fall outside this range, however.

You can expect an IOP in a relatively less desirable location that offers standard treatment services to a general population to cost less than a program located in a beachside setting that offers a broad range of services from an expert staff. However, because your recovery is so important, when quality treatment is needed, it might not be the best time to focus on cost cutting.

Each level of care has its place in recovery. Though it may be tempting to seek the treatment with the lowest cost, it is more important to find the services that meet your needs at the current time.4

What You’re Paying For

Since IOPs are all different, there will be some treatment variation from program to program. As an informed consumer, you’ll want to see where your money is going and if the treatment feels like the right fit for you.

Group therapy is often the primary form of treatment within an IOP, with individual and family sessions also available.

Group sessions may take place in a variety of formats and cover different topics.

The educational groups may have a larger number of people in each session while the process groups will be smaller and consist of fewer than 10 clients.5

Now that you know what you are paying for, you may be wondering whether IOPs really work. Fortunately, the answer is yes!

When compared to inpatient rehab, IOPs can be just as beneficial to the recovering person, resulting in outcomes that are comparable to higher levels of treatment.6

What If I Can’t Afford an IOP?

Even though IOPs are significantly cheaper than higher levels of care, you may still worry about whether you can afford to attend one. Before you decide it’s too expensive, spend some time exploring your options. You likely have more than you think.

Insurance is the most obvious place to start when it comes to paying for treatment. Often, both private and public/government-funded (Medicare and Medicaid) insurance providers cover numerous mental health and substance abuse services, and as long as there is a medical necessity for IOP, it will likely be covered in some part by your plan.

To avoid a surprise medical bill, call your insurance company directly by using the number on the back of your card to ask them directly how much they’ll cover and which treatment providers are in their network. You can also call specific programs to see if they accept your insurance and how they collect copays.

A little bit of time spent investigating your options can help you get the treatment you need.

Is Standard Outpatient Cheaper?

People who pursue more standard types of outpatient treatment offerings, which could include regularly scheduled individual therapy, group therapy, or a combination of both sessions may only have a time commitment of a few hours a week. People may continue on with standard outpatient therapy for years, as it best suits their recovery needs.5 This form of outpatient care may include only individual therapy, only group therapy, or a combination of the two. Standard outpatient treatment is usually longer in duration than IOP and can continue for months or years.5

As mentioned, the intensity of services is a major factor affecting cost. Because of this, standard outpatient therapy is often cheaper than IOP per week.

Standard outpatient is a fantastic form of care, but it may not be enough to manage all of your symptoms and treatment needs. Clients who receive the enhanced services (e.g., case management) provided in some IOPs have been shown to have better outcomes than those who only received standard outpatient therapy.5

A professional evaluation from an addiction expert can help to establish which type of outpatient treatment is best for you at the current time.

Rather than thinking about choosing IOP or standard outpatient, consider IOP and standard outpatient. People who successfully treat a higher level of care often step down to the next lower level to continue their positive trajectory. Standard outpatient is often the step down from IOP.

Try not to let the cost of services discourage you from asking for the help you need to finally achieve the recovery and lifestyle you deserve. At the end of the day, the benefits of a stable life in recovery far outweigh the monetary burden.

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