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Why Health Insurance Plans Should Cover Treatment for Alcoholics

Finding Affordable Healthcare Fot Treatment Of Alcoholism

Cheap health premiums are a goal for every person who goes shopping for healthcare coverage in the U.S. due to the rapidly escalating costs of both medical treatment and insurance policies. Last year the Kaiser Foundation conducted a study that found that even when a family of four is covered by a family member’s job-related insurance benefits, they pay $15,000 a year in out-of-pocket expenses for their premiums. With insurance rates up 8-9 percent last year and the economy still sluggish in the wake of four years of recession, these are not good numbers for cash-strapped Americans. Throw in a pre-existing condition, and the entire scenario becomes more difficult and more expensive, especially if that condition is alcoholism.

Healthcare Reform Addresses Substance Abuse

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is currently under review by the U.S. Supreme Court, contains a number of provisions that would make benefits for the prevention and treatment of substance abuse issues more accessible and affordable for the people who need it the most. The are two key aspects of the Affordable Care Act that are crucial in this regard, beginning with the act’s emphasis on proactive rather than reactive healthcare. In the U.S., the standard has always been to treat illnesses after they occur, rather than to create a support structure that nurtures good health in both a physical and mental sense.

According to a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol abuse costs the U.S. economy $223.5 billion a year, with the government assuming approximately 60 percent of the related health care costs. Some 79,000 people die annually from conditions related to excessive and repeated drinking. About 72 percent of the costs associated with alcoholism can be tracked to lost productivity in the workplace, with 11 percent going to direct health costs, 9 percent to law enforcement, and 6 percent to auto accidents. The families of alcoholics pay about $94 billion a year to support, care for, or clean up after their loved one’s habit.

Protection from Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions is Key

If the Affordable Care Act survives the Supreme Court’s judicial review, it would ban insurers from excluding individuals with pre-existing conditions from gaining insurance coverage starting in 2014. While it is not completely clear how much help this will extend to alcoholics and their families, it is an important step in the right direction. The National Substance Treatment Services Study has found that one month of rehab costs, on average, $7000, with a 90-day course of treatment being the standard. Factoring in relapses, rehab often costs as much as $75,000. Without some form of assistance, most alcoholics don’t get the care they need, and, even if they are able to stop drinking, the harm they have done to their bodies escalates their long-term future healthcare costs. That is why at alcoholtreatment.org, we can help locate the best type of facility that will work with any type of insurance or health care coverage.

By working to create a healthcare model that stresses preventive care, including the counseling and support services that could stop alcoholism from developing, and by providing protection against pre-existing condition exclusions, the Affordable Care Act represents significant potential benefits for alcoholics. It is crucial that this condition be recognized for what is it, a disease, and that sufferers get the insurance benefits they need to support their treatment and recovery.

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