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What the New Health Laws Mean for Long Term Treatment

Finances, sadly, often stand in the way of drug rehabilitation. It’s maddening to watch a loved one struggle with substance abuse, knowing help would be available if it were only affordable. Few heath insurance companies cover drug or alcohol rehab costs, and paying out-of-pocket for rehab may not be possible. The situation is intolerable, but all that’s about to change. Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurance companies to cover substance abuse treatment, while simultaneously expanding Medicaid services for substance abusers. An estimated 62 million people will suddenly have access to these services they need to combat addiction. What’s Covered Under the ACA? Under the ACA, people will have access to a range of services, from out-patient counseling to stays at long term treatment centers. This is a significant change. Long-term treatment is often the best choice when your loved one suffers from addiction, but the lack of insurance coverage, coupled with the necessary cost of long-term treatment rendered extended drug rehab stays impossible for many people. While the ACA covers long-term substance abuse treatment, it’s still unclear exactly what services the Act covers. It’s also unclear exactly how the new program will be administered. We do, however, know treatment will be available to 62 million people who previously had limited access to medical care. The ACA reflects a slow, but positive, change in attitudes towards substance abuse. Too long seen as a failing of character, morals or willpower, substance abuse is finally receiving attention as a disease, and addicts as people who deserve access to treatment. Will You Be Covered? While the ACA is federal law, individual states decide whether or not to expand Medicaid services. We try to avoid politics here — it’s not what this blog is about — but some states are more likely to expand services than others. The ACAwas hotly debated as “Obamacare.” Some states have declared they want nothing to do with “Obamacare,” while others have embraced the new law. Often — but not always — states are divided along party lines. This isn’t about politics — it’s about providing people with a debilitating disease access to the services and long-term treatment they desperately need. The cost of substance abuse care may be high, but the cost of untreated addiction is much higher, both financially and personally. What do you think? (Photo via)

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