Is it possible to get into rehab without insurance?
I believe that before we answer the question about how to get into rehab without insurance, we must first talk about health insurance in general. Why does it exist? Why do we need it at all?
Rehabs love it when you pay with someone else’s money.
My father once told me not to go into any business where people have to pay you with their own money. He was somewhat successful in the HMO clinic business for years, seeing thousands of patients who thought that a doctor visit costs $5, or even zero dollars.
Hospitals and residential rehabs love it when their patients and clients are paying with their insurance card. When you use your health insurance, you do not feel the impact of paying exorbitant fees. You may even feel good about using the coverage that you must pay for every month.
I once spoke to the owner of a successful luxury rehab about insurance billing. He proudly told me all about the many services he could offer that health plans would cover. He described some services, such as massage, as “found money.”
He already employed a massage therapist. There was no additional cost to giving therapy to all residents in hopes that their insurance might pay.
Would you pay for a massage in rehab?
Imagine if the massage therapist went from room to room in your drug rehab center, asking for cash or credit card to cover therapy. Would you still want that massage? You would begin to see the problem with health insurance.
Do you use your car insurance to pay for oil changes and new tires?
Imagine that you are driving on the highway and your car is not driving the way it should. You pull over and notice that you have a flat tire. When you get to the mechanic or tire store, they tell you that you will need a new tire.
Do you then pull out your automobile insurance card? Of course not! We all know that car insurance does not cover routine maintenance. Insurance does not cover tires.
The real purpose of insurance.
We all have a sense of the reason for having car insurance. If there is a severe accident, damages and injuries will be covered. We all agree to share in the cost of the rare occurrence of costly events. Health insurance should be the same, yet the corrupt healthcare insurance industry has taught us to expect health insurance to be involved in our healthcare at all levels.
Is the need for rehab a catastrophic event?
The ideal use of healthcare insurance is for catastrophic injury and illness. There are events in medical care that are expensive. Extended hospital stays, surgeries, and extensive medical evaluations by specialist physicians are not easily affordable for many people.
What about rehab? In many residential rehabs, clients see a general practitioner for a single brief visit during a thirty-day stay. Beyond that, there are no doctor visits, no psychiatrist visits, and no psychologist visits.
Most members of a residential rehab facility’s staff are minimally trained and minimally credentialed counselors. And, there is equine (horse) therapy, massage, art therapy, and more. Costs for a month of rehab are $30,000 and up. Why does insurance pay for this?
The affordable care act of 2008 (Obamacare) included the Parity Act. This law promised that addiction treatment would be covered by insurance equally to any other medical condition. Was this a good idea? Yes and no.
While it is great that we can put pressure on healthcare insurance companies to pay for expensive treatment, why not make treatment more affordable in the first place? If we focus on what works for addiction treatment, we can distill it down to the essentials. We can get the best results for a reasonable cost.
What alternatives exist to overpriced residential rehab programs?
When it comes to alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder, there are medication-assisted treatment (MAT) plans that are far less expensive compared to rehab. And, these therapies work well. The proven success rates for MAT are much higher than abstinence-based rehab. The cost of getting medication-assisted treatment from a doctor is low enough that it is affordable without insurance.
Why don’t rehabs offer MAT if it is so great?
Many rehabs are now offering MAT as part of their programs. Yet, MAT is a long-term therapy that should continue after graduation from a rehab program. Additionally, we should question if rehabs are adding any significant value to the effectiveness of MAT as provided by private doctors.
Isn’t rehab a safe place to put a loved one with an addiction problem?
Some people think of rehab as being like a comfortable prison for people to recover from addiction. Your loved one is locked away, safe for 30 days or more. Hopefully, something will stick, and they will come out a changed person. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Most rehabs do not keep people against their will. Residents can get up and walk away at any time they choose. There is no guarantee that your loved one is safe, even in residential rehab.
What about group therapy and evidence-based treatment for addiction?
One of the primary evidence-based drug treatments provided by nearly all rehabs is 12-step facilitation. There have been studies demonstrating the effectiveness of this practice, helping rehab clients to learn more about programs such as AA.
There is a joke about this that AA members like to tell again and again. The joke is that you pay $30,000 to go to rehab to learn that meetings are free. The funny thing about it is that it is no joke. Rehab is a $30,000+ introduction to 12-step recovery, which is entirely free.
What about addiction treatment for other types of drug addiction.
There is no current effective medical treatment when it comes to other highly addictive drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. While there is evidence that naltrexone and other various medications may provide some help, the best treatment is time and psychotherapy.
What is the best way to keep a person addicted to coke or meth away from their drug of choice? A residential mental health and substance abuse services facility may be the right solution for many people in this situation. Regular therapy provided by doctors of psychology can help patients to identify triggers and to resolve childhood issues.
Are there rehabs that provide adequate substance abuse treatment for patients with substance use disorder.
While many rehabs do not provide professional psychotherapy with a psychologist or psychiatrist, there are ones that do. For example, Mclean Hospital in Massachusettes is a psychiatric hospital associated with Harvard Medical School. Mclean has signature rehab programs that do provide daily psychiatric visits. A rehab that offers comprehensive substance abuse and mental health care can help patients with mental health conditions or polysubstance abuse issues.
I need to know how to get into drug rehab without insurance.
You may be interested in how to get in without insurance if you have identified a good treatment facility that offers full therapy services and medication-assisted treatment. Fortunately, many programs offer scholarships for patients who cannot afford rehab and do not have adequate insurance coverage. If you are trying to get into rehab, once you have identified qualifying programs, ask if they have scholarships available.
Pilot programs may be an alternate solution.
You may be interested in one of the many pilot programs that are starting around the country if you or a loved one is dealing with opioid addiction. These programs often start with a hospital ER visit. Once in the ER, possibly after an overdose, the emergency department doctor will initiate Suboxone treatment.
After discharge, the doctor will arrange for continuity of care at an affiliated clinic. In most of these pilot programs, services are either free, sliding scale, or low cost, including medication. These programs are saving lives.
We need more funding to make these services available to more people. Getting people safely off of street drugs should be a priority. Waiting in line for rehab beds is not the best solution to this problem.
Are there free rehab programs?
There are free, sliding scale, and low-cost solutions if you believe that rehab is the best route to start your journey along the path of recovery. To begin your search for free rehab, try focusing on a few specific areas to get the best results.
There are some excellent online resources for free and low-cost rehab programs. For example, The Rehab podcast website has a state-by-state guide to free and low-cost programs. While limited at this time, the listings of rehab programs are growing all the time. Also, you may want to look at Needy Meds and their new addiction treatment database.
State-funded rehab programs are typically free or low-cost.
You may want to search for addiction treatment resources subsidized at the level of your state or county. Many of these programs exist, but they are not always easy to find. These public, state-funded programs are not well-publicized, so you may have to search to find them.
Grants and scholarships are available.
In addition to the scholarships offered by some rehabs, federal and state grants may also be available. SAMHSA, the mental health services administration, has a website with information about funding for addiction treatment programs, so that may be an excellent place to start looking. It is also possible to raise money online for financial assistance. With crowdsourcing websites like GoFundMe, you can begin your fundraising drive to get help with treatment options for yourself or a loved one.
Faith-based rehab programs are available in many communities.
There is a popular thrift store in my area that is associated with a faith-based rehab program. I have known people to have excellent results in this religious rehab program. Residents do not have to pay for drug rehab, but they do give back to the program by providing service in the thrift store.
Members of the community also fund the program. Such faith-based rehab programs are an excellent model for what is possible at the level of the local community.
Your savings can go towards financing drug rehab without insurance.
I have known people personally who mortgaged their homes to pay for rehab. Once, I overheard a conversation about a man who passed away due to an opioid overdose. His wife would not be able to make money by selling his house because of the second mortgage that he used to pay for rehab. This story is a cautionary tale about the cost and effectiveness of rehab.
I don’t know how good his rehab experience was or if medication-assisted treatment would have made a difference. However, studies support the fact that MAT has a far higher success rate than abstinence-based rehab for opioid-addicted individuals. If you are going to use savings or take out a loan to pay for rehab, I recommend researching what program will yield the best results. You will likely find that the best plans are not the most expensive.
You may fund rehab through friends or family.
While it may seem as if you have alienated your family members and friends by your drug use, you may be surprised how much support they will give you when you are ready to ask for help. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Asking for help to recover from addiction may be the best way to start on a path towards success. Your family and friends will be there for you to help you get better. Again, do the research carefully with your family to determine what program will provide proven treatment with the best chance for long-term success.
You can find rehab alternatives if you do not have insurance.
If you do not have insurance to pay for rehab, you may feel as if you are at a disadvantage. Fortunately, it is possible to get professional help without insurance. The US rehab industry is full of corrupt and greedy rehab programs that see prospective clients as little more than walking insurance cards to be milked as much as possible. Rehab websites have large, colorful buttons labeled, “verify your insurance now.”
If you have a commercial healthcare insurance plan, you have coverage for rehab. You should be checking them out, not the other way around. If you do not have insurance, you may have to think outside the box, but there is a good chance that you will find alternatives that maybe even better than rehab.