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What About Costs and Insurance?

Before you start searching, it's important to understand how treatment providers will charge for their services, what health insurance may cover, and other ways to pay.

How can I estimate treatment costs?

The cost of treatment can vary widely—it depends on the provider, the setting, the services offered, and your specific needs. Treatment providers should be able to help you understand:

  • Costs for a typical course of treatment—and how long it might last.
  • Accepted health insurance plans.
  • Services usually covered by insurance versus those billed separately.
  • Other ways to pay (cash or credit cards).
  • Payment plans, if available.

When evaluating costs of different options, compare them "apples to apples":

  • Individual providers—medical doctors and therapists—charge by the hour or for each office visit or therapy session.
  • Addiction treatment programs—hospital inpatient, residential rehab, and outpatient programs—may charge by the day, week, or month, depending on the type of services received.

Keep in mind that the most expensive option is not always the best—but neither is the cheapest. Look for a balance between cost and quality when weighing your options. The Navigator will show you how to spot signs of higher-quality treatment.

What about health insurance?

Most health insurance covers some alcohol or drug treatment. Insurers may call this "behavioral health" coverage. You can contact the insurance company (call the number on the insurance card) or review the schedule of benefits to learn:

  • What is covered:
    • Number of inpatient days and outpatient sessions.
    • Which medications, if any.
    • Any additional services.
  • What the copayments (if any) will be.
  • Whether the treatment options are limited to in-network providers, and who they are.

A note on health insurance for veterans: If the person needing treatment is a veteran or is covered by health benefits for veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) can help you find VA services near you. Visit the VA Substance Use Disorder Program Locator to do your search.

Are there other options for people with limited financial resources?

For people with limited financial resources to pay for alcohol treatment, here are a few suggestions:

  • Look into eligibility for Medicaid, which provides health insurance for people who do not have other resources. In most states, Medicaid will cover some form of addiction treatment.
  • Contact your local or State health departments to inquire about treatment services. Start with this Directory of Local Health Departments. If you need additional options, try contacting your State agency for substance abuse services.
  • Look for therapists or programs that offer payment assistance or a sliding fee—these terms mean that the cost of treatment can be adjusted to meet the person's ability to pay. This makes the same treatment available at a reduced cost.
  • Consider paying for one session with a health professional who can conduct an assessment and recommend next steps. This may cost up to a few hundred dollars.
  • Ask therapists whether they offer a free brief consultation for new clients. While this isn't treatment, it could be a good opportunity to learn what a course of treatment might involve, and then you could better estimate what it might cost.