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Cost of Methadone Treatment

cost of methadone treatment

With an opioid crisis in full swing all over North America, it’s becoming more and more important to invest in harm-reduction techniques to better help people with opioid addictions.

One of the most cost-efficient treatments for opioid addiction is methadone, but there is a lot of stigma and many misconceptions about this synthetic opioid. Methadone activates the opioid receptors in the brain the same as prescription and illicit opioids, but at a therapeutic dose of a part of a medically-supervised treatment program, it does not create a “high”. It works by reducing cravings for opioids and minimizing withdrawal symptoms.

How Much Does Methadone Treatment Cost?

The cost of any addiction treatment varies based on several factors, including location, duration and treatment type, as well as insurance coverage. When it comes to the cost of methadone treatments, the same rule applies. There are three types of treatment for opioid addiction that use a medication-assisted model with methadone:

1. Inpatient Treatment

During inpatient treatment, the client lives on the premises at the facility and gets full-time assistance while overcoming their addiction. Because the care is 24-hours and space can be limited at facilities offering inpatient care, this treatment tends to be the most expensive option.

The cost of inpatient treatment includes the amenities available to clients at the facility, the staff that provides 24/7 supervision and the assessments and consultations that become necessary as treatment progresses.

Costs of residential treatment lasting between 60 and 90 days can vary, and luxury rehabilitation centers generally cost much more.

2. Outpatient Treatment

Instead of staying at the facility full-time, patients getting outpatient treatment only need to be at the facility part-time for treatment and are able to live their lives as normal the rest of the time. Because outpatient treatment requires fewer resources, it is often cheaper in the long run. There are a couple of different types of outpatient treatment available including intensive outpatient programs which are therapy-based and medication-assisted treatment which is a combination of medication and substance use counseling.

Like inpatient treatment, the costs for these programs vary, particularly when looking at utilizing commercial insurance options or grant funding to cover the cost of treatment. However, outpatient treatment generally costs less than inpatient treatment because the client is simply expected to show up for daily appointments during the day to receive treatment. Medication-assisted treatment is commonly thought to be the most affordable and most effective option for opioid addiction specifically.

3. Clinic and Office-Based Treatments

Another form of outpatient treatment, office-based treatment offers medication and often counseling as a part of the treatment program. The fees here must consider staff salaries and the cost of counseling, but do not include medication because in an office-based treatment center, the medications are prescribed rather than dispensed on-site. Buprenorphine and Suboxone, but not methadone, are options at these types of programs.

Cost of Methadone Versus Buprenorphine and Naltrexone

Methadone treatments are some of the most affordable medication-assisted treatment options available today. Some people may not have the luxury of choosing an opioid addiction treatment based on anything but cost, so it’s crucial to understand how much the prices vary between methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. The following estimates are according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse:

  • How much does methadone cost? With daily visits, counseling and other psychiatric treatment, a client will pay around $126 per week, which adds up to an annual sum of $6,552.
  • How much does buprenorphine cost? Semiweekly visits to a certified opioid treatment facility can run to around $115 per week, which results in an annual sum of $5,980 per year.
  • How much does naltrexone cost? When provided in a certified opioid treatment facility, the price of naltrexone, it’s administration and any related services comes to a hefty $1,177 per month, which adds up to about $14,112 per year.

The study in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal found the costs of buprenorphine and naltrexone alone can range from $257 to $384 per dose, respectively. In comparison, the cost of a single dose of methadone averages to approximately $84.

These figures are estimates, and do not take into account Medicaid or commercial insurance coverage, grant programs, sliding fee scales or other options for making treatment affordable. To find the best option for you, contact a local treatment provider and ask for assistance.

There are many reasons for the cost discrepancy between medications:

  • Methadone: By law, only opioid treatment facilities that are certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can provide clients with methadone. It’s also necessary to take this medication under professional supervision. A physician must be consulted to taper off the medication, as well, in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The minimum length of treatment is one year, though some may require longer-term treatment.
  • Buprenorphine: Unlike methadone, which can only be dispensed and administered in SAMHSA-certified facilities, buprenorphine was the first medication to be allowed to be prescribed at physicians’ offices. It can now be dispensed in several professional spaces, including community hospitals and correctional facilities. It’s used in addition to other non-medication treatments, like counseling, to treat opioid addiction.
  • Naltrexone: Prescribed by any qualified health-care provider, naltrexone is was recently approved for use in treating opioid addiction since it blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids. However, by doing this, naltrexone also reduces the patient’s tolerance of all opioids, prescribed or not and could result in overdose should a patient take enough opioid to try and overcome its blocking properties.

Despite the differences, methadone is often considered the better option because it is cost-effective and must be administered in a certified environment by trained professionals, and treatment is monitored throughout. It’s also the treatment method that many find easiest to afford.

Is Methadone Treatment Covered by Insurance?

Even though it’s the least expensive option, the cost of methadone can still hinder people from seeking treatment, especially if their insurance doesn’t cover the cost of treatment.

It’s always best to check with the individual insurance provider to see what is and isn’t covered in terms of opioid addiction treatment. Some questions to ask an insurance provider regarding addiction treatment include:

  1. What types of treatments are covered?
  2. Is there is a co-pay, and, if so, how much is it?
  3. Are prescription medications for addiction treatment covered?
  4. How many days of treatment are covered?
  5. Are any specialty programs covered and, if so, which ones?

The answers to those questions can help clients make well-rounded decisions regarding their treatment options, and private insurances allow for a broader set of options in terms of which facilities can be used and which type of treatments can be received.

People who qualify for public insurance, like Medicare or Medicaid, may be able to get coverage. It’s important to see what mental health and addiction treatments are covered, though, and to make sure the facility you are considered for treatment accepts these types of insurance.

Methadone treatment costs can also be covered by facilities that are partially or fully subsidized by government funding. Research is necessary here as well since some of these clinics have guidelines for annual income, so it’s always best to double-check the qualifications.

Cost of Treatment Without Insurance

While free methadone clinics are uncommon, there are many ways for people to receive treatment if they don’t have insurance or aren’t qualified for public insurance. The aforementioned subsidized facilities are one option, but there are many other ways to receive treatment.

Many treatment facilities offer ways to help clients receive the treatments they need, so it’s always useful to ask the facility you are considering whether they can help you afford the treatment.

Some financial aid options include:

  • Sliding scale: Certain facilities may be willing to charge less for treatments based on the client’s income and what they are able to pay. This allows clients to get much-needed treatment without the stress of being unable to afford other amenities, such as rent and child care.
  • Payment plans: If sliding payment options aren’t available, see if a facility offers a payment plan option. This will mean the client is still charged the full cost of treatment but can pay it in monthly installments. The amount and duration of these installments will vary from person to person. Be sure to double-check if there’s any interest charged, so you’re well aware of the full sum that you’ll pay.
  • Credit cards: Credit was created for situations in which an individual is unable to pay for something upfront, and medical treatments like rehabilitation can be charged to a credit card to be paid off later. But be careful with credit cards, as the interest rate can be very high.
  • Loans: A loan or a line of credit can be a useful backup plan as well as an easy way to cover the cost of methadone treatment. Check with your bank and see if you’re qualified for a loan or line of credit. You can also turn to trusted loved ones to see if they are willing and able to loan you the money needed for recovery.
  • Scholarships or grants: Believe it or not, grants and scholarships for rehabilitation do exist. Large government organizations and even some private organizations offer scholarships for which people can apply and use to pay for their opioid treatments. Many of these grants are provided by SAMHSA and are designed for a variety of individuals, including racialized people, people who are pregnant and Native Americans.
  • Crowdfunding: In the age of the internet, crowdfunding is easier than ever. Crowdfunding sites exist to allow people to create causes to which people all over the world can donate. Every little bit helps, and most of the money goes directly to the cause, making it a great way to raise some much-needed money for treatment.

It can seem stressful to find the money to pay for treatment — either your own or for a loved one — but the cost will likely be less than the overall cost of funding an opioid addiction.

What Does the Cost of Methadone Treatment Cover?

Knowing what is included in the cost of treatment is crucial, especially when deciding which facility or program is best suited to the client. Generally, treatment costs in a medication-assisted treatment program cover:

  • Medication: With any medication-assisted treatment, the cost of the medication itself — whether it’s methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone — is automatically included in the overall costs, so clients don’t have to pay for the medicine separately.
  • Counseling: Medication-assisted treatments mean prescription drugs are only a part of the treatment. Counseling or therapy is generally a necessary component of treatment and is included in the overall cost.
  • Medical: Legally required drug testing and other medical evaluation services and examinations are included in the total cost of treatment, as well.

Before a person begins their treatment, they are required to go through admission and intake procedures. This allows the staff at the treatment facility to get a better idea of a person’s health and medical history. BAART Programs has a comprehensive admission and intake process, which is included in methadone maintenance treatment costs. It can take a few hours to complete and consists of:

  • Physical examination: Staff will determine how healthy you are and can spot if there are any points of concern, such as undiagnosed medical issues.
  • Medical history: Since medication will be a big part of the recovery process, it’s important to know if the client has any allergies or a history of negative reactions with certain medications.
  • Counselor assessment: The client will meet one on one with a counselor, who will be able to determine mental health and identify or make note of any mental illness. The counselor will also review the client’s drug and social history with them.
  • Referrals: Any additional medical or psychological services that the client may need will be established and referrals made.
  • Drug screening: Staff will require a urine test to learn if there are any drugs in the client’s system and, if so, which ones are present.
  • Review: Staff will review the treatment program’s features and procedures, allowing the client to ask any questions about the treatment process.

BAART Programs also provides ongoing education on addiction, treatment, relapse and medical issues, such as HIV. Random drug screenings and breathalyzers are also administered to keep in line with federal regulations.

Find the Right Treatment for the Right Cost

 If you or your loved one is ready to begin recovery from opioid addiction, see if using medication-assisted treatment is an option. BAART Programs offers quality outpatient treatment in 29 locations over six states, as well as partner programs nationwide.

We believe that people can change their lives for the better, and we are determined to help. For more information about the treatments offered, contact us by calling 844-341-4040 and begin your recovery journey today.

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