Letter to Editor: Insurance Reform Needed for Addiction Treatment

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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention nearly 841,000 people have died from a drug overdose since 1999. As the mother of a young man who succumbed to addiction I wonder if some of those deaths could have been prevented.

In trying to get my son help to overcome his addiction, many roadblocks were hit, and he wasn’t given immediate nor appropriate treatment. The roadblocks were due to our insurance company’s requirements. These requirements did not allow my son to be admitted to a detox program or attend a needed treatment program immediately after he asked me for help.

Once an individual decides that they want help to recover from addiction, that help must be immediate and long-term. Inpatient treatment must go beyond the 28-days that many insurance companies are willing to pay for, and insurance companies must not be allowed to turn people away that want treatment. Effective treatment that will allow an individual to attain and maintain recovery must be covered.

Have you or a loved one ever been denied admittance into a detox unit or a treatment facility? Were you required to leave an inpatient facility after 28 days? Did you have to attend outpatient treatment before inpatient treatment was approved? Do you feel that the treatment covered by your insurance company was not sufficient enough for recovery?

New Jersey’s Bill S-3 requires insurance companies to cover six months of treatment for addiction each year. While that is a good first step, it isn’t enough. Bill S-3 should require that the six months of treatment run contiguously and evaluation to determine continuation of inpatient treatment should occur on day 90 instead of day 28.

In order to make changes to Bill S-3, people that have been affected with addiction, either personally or in support of a loved one, need to speak up and tell their stories. We need to let our legislators know of the difficulties that we face when trying to get our insurance companies to pay for timely and appropriate treatment.

Please consider sharing your story. I will pass these stories on to the sponsors and cosponsors of Bill S-3. Your stories will also be sent to the NJ National Center for Advocacy and Recovery for Behavioral Health who will pass them on to the Department of Banking and Insurance.

Please visit Savingeric.com to leave your story or questions that you may have. It is important that we speak up so that proper treatment is available for those who want to recover. It is important because people are dying and maybe if we join together and speak up, we can change that.

Mary Burns

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