Tuesday September 27th 2016

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Cost of intensive outpatient treatment


Some controversy surround the cost of addiction treatment in the U.S. While residential rehabs  and detox clinics have been criticized for charging “an arm and a leg” for inpatient services, outcomes are not statistically more successful than outpatient programs (especially intensive outpatient programs). What’s the bottom line in addiction treatment cost? We review here, and invite your questions or comments about the cost of outpatient programs at the end.

What is outpatient addiction treatment like?

IOP, or Intensive Outpatient Treatment, is a treatment program that requires a major time commitment. Meetings are held at least 3 days a week for 2-4 hours a day or more. The duration of the program is 8-12 weeks, depending on the patient’s needs. The major focus is relapse prevention. These outpatient programs are often scheduled around work or school.

What’s the cost of intensive outpatient treatment ?

A survey conducted by Open Minds Consulting, showed the average costs of services from 44 private treatment providers. They found that for a 10-week intensive outpatient treatment, the average cost was around $7,000.  Another survey included a total of 13,000 Americans substance abuse treatment programs, and found that:

  • 4% provide free treatment for all clients
  • 10% offer free treatment to selected clients
  • 38% offer both, free treatment for some and treatment on a sliding cost scale
  • 24% don’t offer free treatment, but provide treatment on a sliding scale
  • 27% don’t have free treatment nor sliding scale treatment options
  • But, 76% of all substance abuse treatment facilities have some form of payment assistance

Are you looking for a treatment fit for your needs, but lack health insurance or can’t afford to pay the full price of treatment? Go to the Find Treatment section at the top of our page, or visit SAMHSA’’s Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator.

Average cost of intensive outpatient treatment

To the best of our knowledge, we estimate outpatient treatment to cost, on average, about $135 per day. But to be honest, there is very little information currently published on outpatient treatment program costs. Although less expensive than cost for inpatient treatment, high quality IOP treatment programs aren’t inexpensive.

A scientific study was looking at the outcome and cost of alcohol and drug treatment in day hospital v.s. traditional outpatient regimens. Among randomized subjects, the average treatment costs were $1,640 and $895 for DH (daily hospitals) and OP (traditional outpatient programs), respectively. In the groups of subjects with a mid-level psychiatric severity, the cost of obtaining an additional person abstinence from alcohol in the DH cohort was approximately $5,464.

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What influences outpatient treatment costs?

The charge for 30-days of intensive outpatient treatment can range anywhere from $3,000 up to $10,000. The cost of intensive outpatient treatment varies greatly, since every facility has different payment options, as well as services it charges for.
Here is a list of factors that influence the final cost:

  • geographical positioning (major urban areas are more expensive)
  • types of programs included in the treatment plan
  • services provided
  • group counseling v.s. individual counseling sessions (group sessions are less expensive)

Low cost intensive outpatient treatment

Even though it’s far less-expensive than inpatient rehab, the reality is that outpatient care can still be quite expensive. Depending on the length of the program, addiction treatment can cost thousands of dollars prices vary widely.

Tips to help you pay for treatment:

1. Check your health insurance.

You can call the number on the back of your card to get information of your mental health and substance abuse insurance coverage. You can find out what would be the additional costs, including deductible and co-payment amounts.

2. Search for treatment programs that offer sliding fee scale or reduced payment options.

You can find these information at the substance abuse agency in your state, or call SAMHSA’s helpline on (1-800-662-HELP) and ask about affordable treatment options in your close area.

Cost of intensive outpatient treatment questions

If you have any questions regarding Intensive Outpatient Treatment costs, feel free to post them in the section below. We try to answer your questions personally and promptly. Also, if you have a personal experience with this kind of treatment, we appreciate your input.

Reference Sources: NIH: The outcome and cost of alcohol and drug treatment in an HMO: day hospital versus traditional outpatient regimens
NH Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services: Promoting Prevention and Recovery

GOOGLE BOOKS: Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse, Chapter 6, pages 73-75

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