Overdose rates rise, treatment denied

In the United States 43,982 people die from overdosing each year – an average of 120 deaths per day – according to the UNODC. In spite of these statistics, there are 14,500 addiction treatment facilities in the United States.

Doctors afirm that current insurance barriers for those with addictions are adding to their risk of death, according to USA Today.

Across the country people are being denied the rehabilitation treatment they need due to their health insurance policies.

According to the Baldwin Research Institute, the substance abuse rehabilitation programs are generally comprised of 80 percent outpatient treatment, 10 percent inpatient and 10 percent methadone clinics.

Since most of the treatment is outpatient, many insurance companies have a “fail first” policy, meaning that a patient has to first fail at attempting the outpatient treatment before being admitted to inpatient treatment.

“The problem with outpatient treatments is that there is no accountability, someone might come into the counseling session high and then be able to just walk out,” Rhonda Hostler, John Brown University nurse, said.

In this system, patients have to relapse before they can receive the more effective inpatient treatment.

The second flaw in the system is that inpatient care is very expensive, so the insurance companies can only offer a short stay.

Hostler explained that many patients do not do well with short inpatient stays because theY quickly go back to some of the things that trigger their addiction and after going through detox they are even more susceptible to relapse.

“After they relapse the likelihood of them failing another treatment program is very high. The situation is like a revolving door. It takes several times to get clean,” Hostler said.

The key is knowing the policies concerning drug and substance abuse that an insurance company has.

The University’s insurance regards substance abuse like any other illness, according to a representative from Academic Health Plans, which is the third- party provider of insurance at the University.

A representative of Health Smart, the direct insurance provider for the University’s health insurance, stated that 80 percent of the cost for any substance abuse treatment for any student with their insurance would be covered. They also have no “fail first” policy, so students are free to choose to go into inpatient, rather than have to fail at outpatient care first.

Out of the 20 University students that were asked whether they were aware of their own insurance substance abuse policy all 20 of them said that they were not certain how much their insurance would cover, and whether they had an instituted “fail first” policy.