Medicare Substance Abuse Treatment

Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance to senior individuals (65 years or older). While many people do not realize it, this population can be highly affected by the issues of substance abuse and addiction. Formal substance abuse treatment provided by rehab centers is often the only way to recover from these issues, and some of these facilities do accept Medicare as a form of payment.

Substance Abuse Among Seniors

As stated by the NCBI, “Substance abuse, particularly of alcohol and prescription drugs, among adults 60 and older is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country.” Some of the reasons for this are:

  • Senior individuals hiding their abuse of prescription drugs and other substances out of shame or embarrassment
    • Often, adult children of these individuals are ashamed of their parents’ abuse of drugs as well and “choose not to address it”
  • Ageism that “assigns different quality-of-life standards to older adults,” causing younger adults to think things like “What difference does it make?”
  • Clinicians do not often realize that there is a strong possibility that older individuals might react poorly or unexpectedly to a medication because “drug trials of new medications do not include older subjects”
    • Office visits for seniors can often be hurried as well, and many doctors do not pick up on the fact that their older patients are showing signs of substance abuse.
  • Many senior individuals feel that they are too old to change their ways

Medicare for Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

medicare and substance abuse rehab

Many substance abuse treatment centers accept Medicare coverage.

Many individuals over the age of 65 are covered under Medicare because the program is specifically meant for them to be able to receive the treatment and help they need. This is why substance abuse recovery should be given the same amount of care and treatment as any other issue older adults might face.

In 2011, a third of substance abuse treatment centers accepted Medicare as a payment option for rehab treatment (SAMHSA). This means that finding a facility that accepts Medicare as a payment option may be more difficult than finding one that accepts Medicaid but still probable. Individuals looking for treatment will need to do their research in order to find the right facility that meets their specific and individual needs and also accepts Medicare as a payment method.

Why Pay for Treatment with Medicare

Paying for substance abuse treatment with Medicare allows patients to get formal and necessary treatment without paying money that they do not have. Medicare Part A covers mental health care services and inpatient care, and according to Medicare.gov, “if you’re in a psychiatric hospital (instead of a general hospital), Part A only pays for up to 190 days of inpatient” treatment. This still is a viable option, as treatment for substance abuse is generally accepted to be most effective if it lasts longer than 90 days.

Medicare is a payment option that can help many seniors receive treatment for substance abuse disorders who otherwise would have thought that they should just go on living with these issues. And this can not only improve their quality of life but do so without being more expensive than necessary.