Getting Into Drug Rehab Without Insurance And the Treatment Funded

Last Updated: September 27, 2021

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

The substance abuse problem is difficult to overcome on its own. Add to that worries about finding alcohol or drug rehab without insurance, and getting the help one needs can appear to be an insurmountable problem. But it isn’t.

Very few people indeed have the money to pay the total cost of inpatient drug or alcohol rehab “out of pocket.” This is even more true if the addiction is long-term and has left one financially compromised. But that’s not the whole story.

Thankfully, there are ways to pay for the cost of drug rehab without insurance. This article lists 13 strategies that can help anyone find the treatment they need, even if someone doesn’t have health insurance.

How To Get Help In Life-Threatening Situations

Although many people going through addiction and substance abuse may hesitate to seek treatment because of having no insurance, certain acute life-threatening situations are necessary to seek treatment immediately. These acute emergencies include drug overdose situations, suicidal thoughts and actions, and other harmful acts attributed to addiction. Even if someone does not have insurance, you can still do certain things if you or your loved one is suffering from addiction.

How To Get Help In Life-Threatening Situations

Double-Check The Insurance

Before we get into the “meat” of this article, how to get into rehab without insurance, we should provide a few words for those who have insurance but who believe it won’t cover their recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. An individual may be reading this article, in fact, because either one has assumed that rehab is not covered or because the insurer has told them that it’s not covered. This may not be the case.

Suppose a person is insured through the Affordable Care Act, for example. In that case, coverage of alcohol and drug rehab as an integral part of its ten essential health benefits is required of all participating insurers. They simply can’t tell the person it isn’t covered. So the questions anyone needs to research are how much rehab care is covered by the policy and in what circumstances.

If someone recently went through job loss and lost their job-based coverage, they may be eligible for COBRA continuation. COBRA or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act allows employees and their families to continue using the group health coverage that their previous employer-provided for a limited amount of time. Once enrolled in COBRA, the user can have the same mental health and substance abuse treatment coverage that they had with the previous employer.

However, there are Certain Prerequisites to be Eligible for COBRA. These Include:

  • Previous insurance that is covered by COBRA
  • An event qualifying for this coverage, such as job loss
  • A qualified beneficiary

How To Pay For Rehab: Effective Strategies To Pay For Drug Rehab Without Insurance

For many trying to overcome addiction, the cost of inpatient drug rehab, no insurance programs can make getting the help they need seems impossible. It isn’t. Options exist to provide drug rehab, no insurance programs, and rehab for alcoholism with no insurance. In the following sections, we list some of these options through which clients can get the required financial aid for drug rehab.

State-Funded Rehab

State-funded rehab centers use government money, distributed by the individual state, to support people recovering from alcohol or drug addiction. These centers provide detox, treatment, and support services for those without a lot of income or savings or with inadequate or no insurance.

Some of the money that funds these programs is provided in the form of grants or reimbursement through Medicaid, and some come directly from state budgets.

To qualify for such programs, the person will have to provide proof of residency in the state and in the US, proof of their income status, and personal information about the history and degree of their addiction.

Another way that clients can access rehabilitation services is to contact their local or state mental health or substance abuse agency. SAMHSA has maintained a Directory of Single State Agencies (SSA) for substance abuse services, making it very easy for clients to get information about services in their particular state.

Faith-Based Rehab

A number of Christian and other faith-based groups provide drug and alcohol recovery programs. The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers and Harbor Light detox and residential centers can be found nationwide.

Other such faith-based options include the Orthodox Jewish Chabad movement recovery program and its residential treatment center for men in California, or JACS, a Jewish community addiction resource group in New York. Many, but not all, of these programs are free of charge. Finding them is often just a matter of talking to the leaders of your own faith tradition.

Employee Assistance Program

Many companies also offer Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that helps employees manage their personal or work-related problems. These may include problems such as childcare, family issues, mental health issues, and substance abuse problems. EAPs have appointed counselors who work with the employees, managers, and supervisors to address the issues and needs they face. This helps them prevent workplace violence, trauma, and other harmful situations. These employee assistance programs are usually offered free of cost to the employees and mostly cover their children and spouses as well.

Free Health Coverage at Community Health Centers, Clinics, and Hospitals

Non-profit organizations such as the United Way often can be a great resource to those seeking no-insurance rehabilitation. In addition, some local communities, as well as national organizations, offer grants to those who need them.

Employee Assistance Program

Scholarships or Grants

An individual can apply to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for grants that help people find alcohol or drug addiction treatment. These resources are available and specifically targeted to those who don’t have insurance and can’t find other ways on how to pay for rehab and the care they need. It is possible to find out whether one qualifies for such grants by reviewing the application requirements on the SAMHSA website.

In addition, a person can make a list of centers in the area that are experienced in treating one’s specific addiction. Then an individual can contact those facilities to ask whether they offer any scholarship opportunities. Many do.

Subsidized Coverage

People with low incomes who are unable to pay for rehab themselves can receive subsidized treatment from State governments. These subsidies can sometimes cover no-insurance alcohol rehab or no-insurance drug rehab and/or provide financial assistance to those with a low socioeconomic status who are seeking treatment. A person can find out whether their income is in the range covered by these programs from the Income levels & savings page at the HealthCare.gov website.

Sliding-Scale Payments

Many addiction treatment programs are very aware of how difficult it can be to finance the recovery. Because they feel strongly about making sure their treatment is accessible to anyone who needs it, many of them are willing to create a personalized cost for their services. Payment plans are based on the income and based on what one can realistically be expected to pay. These programs are designed to encourage those with lower incomes to seek treatment.

Financing – Rehab Now, Pay Later (Financial Aid For Drug Rehab)

One of the best resources available for those who need immediate treatment for their substance abuse problems but don’t have the money to pay for it is financing through which they can get hands-on financial aid for drug rehab. Banks, Savings & Loans, and in some cases, even the residential rehab facilities themselves can offer loans or payment plans that provide the full cost of treatment now when a person needs it.

Payments on such financing don’t come due until after an individual is out of treatment. Some plans even offer a grace period of several months to allow them the time one may need to get settled and find a job before payments begin.

Low-Interest Rates Credit Cards

If one feels that they have no other choice to get enrolled in a no insurance rehab program than to get a loan, it is advisable to apply for a credit card that has a very low-interest rate or no interest rate. This way, even if the user cannot pay off immediately, they will not be burdened by the extra interest fees that keep piling up every month, making it almost impossible for the user to ever pay it off. It is also advisable to apply for such a card from companies that specialize in healthcare financing. They offer flexible loans, which are relatively easier to pay off.

Borrowing Money From Friends Or Family

Although people struggling with addiction are often reluctant to ask friends or family members for help, the truth is that they are often in the best position to offer it. They, after all, maybe willing to help to make positive changes in the addicted person’s life. Sit down with them and explain how much drug rehab without insurance costs, and they may be willing to provide financial aid for drug rehab.

Personal Savings

People who have worked all or for a large portion of their lives to accumulate savings may be reluctant to dip into them to finance their addiction treatment. But quite frankly, one’s savings are going to be no use to them if they’re dead, and following the path of both alcohol and drug addictions is pointed firmly in the direction of early death.

Nothing is more important than taking the steps towards recovery and being able to live a normal life, free from compulsive substance abuse. So if a person is committed to turning their around, remember that investing savings in one’s own recovery is well worth it.

HSA Funds

Another option that may help users to some extent in saving their out-of-pocket expenses is to use their Health Saving Account (HSA). If a person’s drug rehabilitation program offers lodging, meals, and transportation to 12-step meetings, then HSA funds may cover those costs for the client. This helps the client reduce their expenses, especially in the case where he/she is attending a no insurance rehab.

Raise Money

Many people inspired to seek treatment but without the money or insurance to pay for it have successfully raised the money they need. Some do this by selling off personal items or by asking for donations via GoFundMe or IndieGoGo, or other such sites. If an individual has valuable skills or services, they can offer them as incentives to those who donate to their cause, and this raises the financial aid for drug rehab.

Does My Insurance Cover Addiction Treatment? Read More About Your Health Insurance Options:

How to Sign Up for Insurance?

Under the Affordable Care Act of 2014, all marketplace insurance plans must provide coverage for substance abuse and mental health treatment services, according to which they cannot deny coverage for these services. Under the Mental Health Parity And Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008, health insurance companies must provide the same level of coverage for mental health and substance abuse as they do for primary care.

Even if Someone is Unemployed or Does not Have Insurance, They Can Still Sign Up for it in Certain Ways, Which are Discussed Below:

  • Clients can learn about their low-cost insurance options by visiting healthcare.gov and get all the relevant information thereof how they can sign up.
  • They can also search in various directories of each state to know about different insurance options. Each state has representatives who can help clients in providing the information as well as in helping them sign up for these programs at no charge.
  • They can call their local county office to find out if they are eligible to sign up for Medicaid or Medicare programs and the complete process of signing up.
How to Sign Up for Insurance

How To Get Into Rehab Without Insurance: Alternatives To Inpatient Rehab

If none of the above strategies work out, don’t lose hope. There are many alternatives to inpatient care, and many of them cost much less than staying in a residential facility.

Outpatient or Intensive Outpatient Care

Although inpatient treatment in a residential facility has higher success rates, if someone is sufficiently committed, outpatient treatment may be a viable option. In drug rehabs with no insurance outpatient rehab programs, the person attends short sessions 3 to 5 days a week to see a counselor and take any medications they have prescribed. At a slightly higher level up, intensive outpatient rehab programs allow the person to continue his or her normal daily schedule while spending several hours at the center several days a week.

Partial Hospitalization

In partial hospitalization programs, patients spend at least three days a week at the clinic or treatment center for about five hours each day. While there, they receive therapy, learn about addiction, and work on developing coping skills.

12-Step Programs and Non-Religious Self-Help Groups

While these groups are usually not recommended as the only source of treatment for addiction, they can provide a strong means of support after rehab and during one’s ongoing recovery. Most such programs are free.

Help Is Out There Even If You Do Not Have Insurance

Even if someone struggling with addiction does not have insurance, there are ways to get the help one needs to overcome that addiction. There are many different options that they can utilize to get rehabilitation help in order to live a sober life that every one of us deserves. Lack of money or insurance should never be a reason to continue living a life of addiction.

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Page Sources

  1. Health & Wellness. CHABAD. (2021). https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/714274/jewish/Jewish-Recovery.htm.
  2. SAMHSA Grants. SAMHSA. (2021). https://www.samhsa.gov/grants.
  3. Directory of Single State Agencies (SSA) for Substance Abuse Services. SAMHSA. (2016)., from https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/ssadirectory.pdf.
  4. Key Features of the Affordable Care Act by Year. (2016). Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK241401/.
  5. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) | CMS. Center For Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2021). https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/Other-Insurance-Protections/mhpaea_factsheet#

Published on: May 4th, 2018

Updated on: September 27th, 2021

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.