Jul 24

If you or your family member is a candidate for alcohol/drug rehab of the month-long (or longer) inpatient variety, we have noted in a previous blog post that your health insurance plan will probably not help you with the cost.  So you are in the position of trying to make a choice as an “educated consumer.”  This is not easy, even for us at LCL, since we make very few such referrals in this era when access to that level of care is beyond the means of most of our clients.   Continue reading »

Apr 01

It can be difficult to keep track of all the various forms of psychological help that are out there.  Each year seems to bring a new wrinkle, and reliable scientific validation is often hard to come by (and approaches backed by tightly designed studies often seem less amazing in real-life practice).  One approach that is pretty well accepted among mental health professionals and that also gets good reviews from patients/clients is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).  At this point, it’s been around for over 30 years and is certainly no longer a fad – but it’s harder work (for both therapist and patient) than many therapies and not so widely available.  Drawing upon elements of behavioral treatment as well as Buddhist-tinged concepts such as “radical acceptance,”  DBT can be conceptualized as a collection of learnable coping skills that are particularly useful for individuals who have a tumultuous emotional life.  People whose lives seem to be full of such “drama” are typically not choosing to make life difficult; their outer expression reflects their inner reality.  DBT accepts that and sets about building compensatory skills.  For an example of a case that might be applicable, see our column on page 3  of the March issue of MBA Lawyers Journal.

Jeff Fortgang, PhD

Mar 21

More than 20 years after Managed Care aggressively changed the world of health insurance, for better or worse, many people still believe that they are covered for “rehab” of the sort that they see Dr. Drew providing on cable TV.  I still have fond memories of the days when it was a fairly simple matter, when meeting with an alcoholic or addict whose personal and family life was in disarray, to get him or her a bed at places like Spofford Hall or Edgehill Newport – these were perhaps the premier rehab facilities in New England, and neither of them survived the advent of managed care.  I must admit a 28-day (inpatient) rehab was “overkill” for some of these cases, but at the time, that was the default clinical approach, and when an addiction counselor spoke of “treatment,” it usually referred to that type of program.

For years now, with the exception of a couple of nationwide insurance plans (which seem to cover facilities largely in Florida) as well as specially configured union plans for individuals such as pilots and pro athletes, health insurance covers very little in the way of inpatient treatment – generally limited to medically necessary detox (only when necessary to mitigate withdrawal symptoms).  Sometimes it is possible to get insurance to cover a subsequent couple of weeks in a “partial hospital” or “intensive outpatient” program (consisting typically of 3 to 5 clinic visits per week, each lasting from about 2 hours to about 6 hours), and in a few places one can also arrange to reside on site while attending a partial hospital program – these approaches are much less costly than rehabs, and provide a diluted version of some of the same benefits.

A more traditional rehab will cost over $30,000 for a month’s stay; do not expect your Blue Cross, Tufts, Harvard Pilgrim, etc. policy to cover it.  There are programs that cost somewhat less (e.g., with reduced lengths of stay or staffs consisting mainly of counselors with less in the way of medical care).  And if a person needs a sobriety-oriented residence as a next stage of recovery, there is also a 2-tiered world – very comfortable accommodations for those who can afford to spend well over $1000 a week, or relatively rough [but sometimes life-saving] halfway house environments (with long waiting lists) for those without wealth.  (More to come at a later date.)

Jeff Fortgang, PhD, LADC-I

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