“Oh God, we cannot afford this. We will have to take out a loan, or another mortgage on our house, or deplete our retirement funds or borrow from relatives. And what about families who have no resources at all – what in the world do they do?”
Those were my first thoughts almost five years ago, back in August 2010, when I first heard about the sometimes astounding costs of inpatient drug rehab for my addicted son. I was wrong; there were options available so that we could, and did, afford to send Sam to rehab.
So, I thought it might be helpful to parents who are just starting down this long road of researching drug rehabs to talk a little bit about rehab costs, and hopefully reassure you that there are ways you can afford to send your beloved child to a reputable, qualified inpatient rehab without complete financial destruction.
As parents who love your children, you are naturally terrified about your beloved child’s situation. And on top of all the complexities that dealing with an addict entails, you now have to confront the issues of finances, and insurance.
It can all seem completely overwhelming. I understand. I have been there, twice, in fact. As you may already know from my previous blog articles, my oldest son, Sam, now 25 years old, is a recovering addict who thankfully has been drug free for a little over four years now.
But during the course of his treatment and recovery he went through two separate inpatient rehab programs, along with two intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), and two sober living facilities. And that is not even counting the numerous therapists, psychiatrists and medical doctors we consulted before Sam finally admitted his drug addiction.
Anyway, when I first heard about the costs of inpatient drug rehab, I was terrified.
What Does Inpatient Rehab Cost?
For purposes of this article I did an informal survey of seventy inpatient rehabs that were reviewed on the addiction and recovery website, www.thefix.com. This survey included rehabs from all over the United States.
Rehab prices ranged from a high of an astounding $90,000 per month for the ultimate “luxury” experience, to $4,700 per month, with an average monthly cost of about $28,000 per month. Clearly, the services and facilities varied widely, as did the staff qualifications, philosophies, and outcomes, of the various treatment centers.
It is really important, in fact, essential, to do your homework to determine which facility is best for your child. A higher price tag does not always equal a better experience, or more importantly, a more qualified staff or a better outcome.
What about Insurance?
Under the Affordable Care Act, the relevant provisions of which were not in effect when Sam first went to rehab, insurers are now prohibited from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, including substance abuse.
More importantly, insurers must provide coverage for mental health and substance abuse treatment on the same level as regular medical care. In other words, health insurance companies are now required to cover some level of substance abuse treatment.
However, most insurers place restrictions on addiction treatment coverage, such as requiring the addict to exhaust all outpatient rehab opportunities before they will provide coverage for inpatient rehab, or limiting the number of days in inpatient rehab.
So it is important to talk to your insurer and determine your individual substance abuse coverage. Some rehabs, including Amethyst, can help in negotiating the amount and type of addiction coverage with your insurance company.
Talk About Cost with the Rehab
There are rehabs that are willing to work with you on the price. Some rehabs will provide payment plans or even partial scholarships for addicts and their families who are without health insurance (i.e., self-pay), or who are truly in need.
Amethyst, for example, does all of the above. So, in addition to talking to your health insurance company, talk to the rehab facility staff about your individual financial situation to see what pricing plans or adjustments might be available.
The Best for Your Addicted Son or Daughter
We all want the very best treatment for our addicted children, and many of us are willing to pay any amount of money to “fix” the problem. But a high price is no guarantee of the best services or most qualified rehab personnel.
So, do your research. Investigate several rehabs to find the best one for your son or daughter. Talk to your insurance company about substance abuse coverage. Also, talk to the rehab staff to see what pricing alternatives or plans they offer, and whether they will assist you in negotiating coverage with your insurance company. While you’re at it, look into the family support program offered through Amethyst.
A Long Journey to Recovery
But please keep in mind; sometimes money is just not enough. Your addicted son or daughter must be willing and open to begin the difficult process of recovery. Initially, Sam was not, and his recovery was far from a smooth ride.
His first rehab was not a good fit, maybe partly because he was not yet genuinely committed to real recovery. He went from that first rehab to homelessness, then back to rehab, and on to sober living, relapse, jail, detox, a suicide threat, a second rehab, and a year in sober living.
But I can very gratefully say that he celebrated four years of sobriety this past April, and I pray that God willing, my wonderful son will continue to remain drug-free. I am of course ridiculously proud of him for his courage and hard work, and his tireless efforts to give back to others with this terrible disease.
I send my very best wishes and prayers to every addict, every parent, and every family member out there who is dealing with the chronic disease of addiction. And I wish each one of you success in finding reputable, cost-effective treatment leading to long-term recovery.