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How Can a Typical Family Afford Drug Treatment Programs?

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at May 24, 2016

WNPR in Connecticut reported in its May 18, 2016 article “The High Cost of Rehab: Supporting Families Through the Heroin Crisis” about how insurance continues to not play nice in the sandbox with Parity requirements.

As heroin and opiate addictions continue to spread among middle class communities, families who never thought they’d face this problem are finding out one simple truth: treating someone for an addiction can be really, really costly.

Christopher Johns became addicted in high school after he was prescribed opioid painkillers for a routine surgery. His mother, Lisa, put her son through several rounds of rehab during his years of addiction.

“He begged for help,” she said. “He begged me to find him something. He didn’t want to be an addict. He hated himself.”

But she said the sheer cost was a huge obstacle.

“Tens of thousands of dollars,” she said. “The first rehab I had my son in, it was $27,000. And that’s just to get him there. That’s not including the airfare. That’s not including the medical we had to pay for, and all of that. It’s really costly.”

She has sat with many families going through exactly this process, and she said finding funding for rehab is a crap shoot: some families can rely on insurance coverage, while others will have their claims denied outright.

“So we’re talking people are re-mortgaging their house, taking out loans against their retirement,” said de la Cruz. “And the insurance is determining whether a person is sick enough or not — 28 days is not enough for a person that’s doing heroin. It’s just not enough.”

De la Cruz believes the health care system should treat addiction just like any other chronic disease, but she said that so far, that’s not the case.

“If they have insurance, and they find out they have cancer, they’re going to have people talking to them and setting appointments up for them,” de la Cruz said. “And when a family member just finds out their loved one is addicted, there’s no help there.”

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