Rising Patient Responsibility: Substance Abuse: Part 7

Rising Patient Responsibility: Substance Abuse: Part 7

Continuing our series on increasing patient out-of-pocket costs, today we examine trends in substance abuse treatment. Between the opioid epidemic, as well as ongoing complications from other drugs and alcohol, substance abuse treatment is again on the rise.

Substance abuse by the numbers.

While opioids and narcotics may get most of the headlines, alcohol is still the chief substance abuse problem in the U.S. In 2014, estimates showed that 60.9 million Americans over the age of 12 had reported binge drinking in the prior month, and in 2013, 41% of substance abuse treatment was for alcohol. Regardless of the specific addiction, the costs for treatment can be excessive. Detox can run from $1,000 to $1,500 in total, and is generally the cheapest treatment option. Inpatient and outpatient rehab can run anywhere from a few thousand dollars for outpatient, to tens of thousands of dollars for inpatient programs. While some insurance providers may pick up all or parts of the tab, many do not, leaving the patient with high out-of-pocket expenses.

Telemedicine a popular alternative to in-person treatment.

While much of the focus on telemedicine centers around its potential in rural communities underserved by a hospital and medical facilities, it can also have broader impacts elsewhere. Largely in response to the opioid crisis, officials in Virginia recently launched the Extension for Community Health Outcomes, or ECHO, to help combat the crisis across all corners of the state. It’s a model that could have wider applicability in the future, and be copied in other parts of the country. Remote treatment for the growing problem of substance abuse will be critical, as it may be unrealistic for all treatment to occur onsite at a medical or treatment facility, regardless of location.

How to manage cost.

While pursuing outpatient and other less intensive treatment programs may keep costs lower for many patients, those options aren’t for everybody. Substance abuse treatment is often critical for a patient to get his or her life back on track, and in some cases, absolutely necessary to avoid a deadly spiral. For those faced with high expenses, but without the ability to pay upfront, Curae can be the solution. Curae provides flexible patient financing in just minutes, while the provider can be paid within 48 hours after a charge has been processed. When dealing with a crisis like substance abuse, every minute can matter. Find out how your practice can get started today.

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