If the addiction epidemic sweeping the nation has taught us anything thus far, it is that addiction does not discriminate. No one- no matter their age, job, gender, political affiliation, geography, or socioeconomic status is safe from the addictive properties of opiates. The landslide from prescription painkillers to more dangerous substitutes such as heroin and fentanyl has already claimed far too many lives, from all walks of life. But what happens when you can’t afford the treatment that could save your life?
Lack of Treatment for Lower-Income People
Finding and affording necessary addiction treatment is a major issue for many addicts in lower income brackets, particularly in the south and parts of the midwest. The Affordable Care Act, despite mixed opinions among political parties, received high praise in terms of its requirement from Medicaid that addiction treatment be covered for those who qualify. However, regulations and red tape have made things difficult for addicts on Medicaid to receive prescriptions of buprenorphine, an opiate antagonist that has helped many addicts to kick their heroin or fentanyl habits. Further, many doctors are unwilling to treat opiate addicts, particularly those receiving Medicaid. Low fees paid to doctors by Medicaid programs, and increased amounts of paperwork, have made it so many doctors do not want to take on these patients. Ethical or not, it is the realistic situation that the healthcare industry is in, and it is leaving many addicts without options for help. This is particularly problematic, considering the higher proportion of Medicaid patients that suffer from opiate or other substance addictions in comparison to the general population. Other roadblocks they encounter as a result of Medicaid’s “treatment stipulations” include prior authorizations, dosage and duration limits, requirements that patients “fail first” at cheaper non-medicinal treatments, high copays and excessive counseling requirements. As a final issue, coverage limitations mean that depending on where someone lives, Medicaid may pay a very small portion of buprenorphine. Federal and state grants have been working to institute programs and educational tools for doctors to make treatment more accessible to those who need it, but much progress is needed to ensure that the healthcare system does not exclude lower-income addicts from receiving vital help for their addictions.
Help is Available
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, call the treatment professionals at Serenity Acres today to learn about our payment options, and to find out if inpatient treatment could be right for you: 1-800-203-2024.