Options to Pay for Drug Rehab When You Do Not Have Insurance

Medically Reviewed

Treatment for a substance use disorder can cost a lot of money. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that the average cost for a year of methadone maintenance is almost $5,000; however, the alternative of imprisonment costs society nearly five times as much.

Nearly every professional organization, such as NIDA, agrees that the cost of treatment for substance abuse outweighs the burdens and costs that substance abuse places on the individual and society. Nonetheless, most of the individuals who need treatment for a substance abuse issue will be forced to absorb most of the cost of the treatment themselves, whether it is charged to their insurance or they pay for it out of pocket.

Because there are numerous benefits to treatment, the expense associated with getting into rehab should not discourage anyone. There are many options available to help those without insurance get the treatment they need.

Options for People without Insurance

Someone who does not have insurance coverage and needs to get into treatment for their substance abuse issue has several options to investigate.

Public government insurance:

Getting enrolled in a public insurance program is one of the first options a person should consider. Medicaid is a public assistance option individuals with low incomes can use. Preexisting conditions are not excluding factors from Medicaid or other public assistance programs, and a person may be able to apply for Medicaid and get into a rehab program while they are being approved. Medicare is a government-sponsored insurance program for senior-age individuals and individuals with disabilities.

Payment options:

Certain treatment programs offer payment plans or sliding-scale programs where costs are adjusted to the individual’s level of income. Clients can then pay off the cost of treatment over time once they are living securely in recovery.

In some instances, programs may offer discounted fees to those who don’t have insurance. They may refer to this as the cash price.

Many universities with medical schools or graduate social work, graduate clinical psychology, and graduate counseling programs offer treatment from students in training who are under the supervision of doctoral-level advisers. Many of these therapy programs are often based on a sliding scale. Check with local universities to see if this is an option.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

SAMHSA administers grants to state agencies to help cover the cost of substance use treatment. The money goes directly to treatment centers. The organization’s treatment provider locator can be used to help an individual find low-cost addiction treatment in their area. One might also be able to find low-cost addiction treatment through their state website.

Personal finance options:

Because the benefits of getting treatment for a substance use disorder far outweigh the financial costs, it may be wise to finance treatment through a variety of personal options, such as borrowing money from family or friends, taking out a personal loan, using credit cards, or crowdfunding. In some instances, you may be able to borrow money to get insurance, which will the offset the out-of-pocket costs.

Low-cost or free options:

There are some free treatment and support options available. Many charities and religious organizations offer free substance abuse treatment, such as the Salvation Army. Local churches may also offer programs or scholarships to offset the cost of treatment.

Peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can provide valuable support free of charge. Twelve-step groups exist for nearly every type or class of drug of abuse, including narcotics, cocaine, and marijuana. These groups ask for donations from members who attend the groups, but donations are not mandatory. Meetings are readily available at numerous times of the day in most major urban areas.

Some people don’t like the religious association or spiritual aspect of AA and related groups. There are also numerous non-12-step peer support groups, such as Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) and Secular Organizations for Sobriety.

Regardless of one’s financial situation, treatment options are available. Remember that the benefits of achieving sobriety far outweigh the cost of treatment.

Talk to prospective rehab programs about your options. Most will be willing to work with you to figure out how to fund treatment if you don’t have insurance.

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