Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Brace for New Insurance Coverage

Saturday, April 20, 2013
(graphic: Alcoholism and Drug Rehab Helpline, Appleton Wisconsin)

The new federal healthcare law will provide new opportunities for those suffering from substance abuse to seek help—assuming treatment centers will be able to keep up with demand.


Carla Johnson of the Associated Press reported that only 1% of healthcare funding in the United States currently goes toward addiction, resulting in millions of alcoholics and drug addicts without help.


It is estimated that only about 10% of the 23 million Americans with alcohol or drug problems now receive treatment because of varying reasons (shame and stigma, as well as lack of health insurance).


But within the coming year, these untreated individuals will have health insurance thanks to the new law, and as part of that coverage, they will have the option of drug and alcohol counseling and treatment, which will now be classified as an “essential health benefit” in most health insurance plans.


This change could mean the number of people seeking treatment in the U.S. could double in no time.


The system, however, is not prepared for this increase in patients. Treatment clinics in more than two-thirds of the states are already at or approaching 100% capacity, AP reported, and state budget are being cut.


In Minnesota, an estimated 491,000 people in need of substance abuse treatment, but there are only 3,900 inpatient beds available in the whole state. In Illinois, there are 92,000 patients receiving treatment, but more than 230,000 more addicts and alcoholics currently without insurance will become eligible in January. 

-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Health Law Could Overwhelm Addiction Services (by Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press)

Drug Addiction in Oklahoma Costs More than Entire State Budget (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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