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Does Insurance Pay for Pet Friendly Drug Rehab?

a female client sitting on a grass with her petIf you’re struggling with a substance abuse disorder, worries like who’s going to take care of your pet can actually stop you from going. Today, an estimated 66% of American households have a pet, and if you’re alone, making sure your pet is taken care of is critical. Still, the vast majority of rehab centers don’t accept pets, citing distraction, extra care, and safety concerns like allergies and accidents. As a result, “pet friendly” rehabs or those that do take pets are often specialty institutions with kennels and pet daycare options that you have to pay for as part of treatment.

The big question is, will your insurance provider pay for it? And, if so, how much will they cover? The answer depends on your insurance plan, the rehab center, and what they are charging for, so figuring out the answer will require a bit more research on your part.

Your Insurance Covers Drug Rehab

Your insurance provider is required, by law, to cover drug rehab. The Affordable Care Act classifies substance use disorders as a temporary disability, meaning you are legally entitled to coverage. Your actual coverage amount will range from about 10% for some inpatient treatment to 90% for most outpatient treatment depending on your plan level. However, no matter your plan, your insurance provider is required by law to cover treatment.

Still, most place significant restrictions on care:

  • The provider has to be in-network/approved
  • You’ll need a recommendation into treatment
  • You may have to go through preliminary treatment such as an outpatient treatment program first
  • You may pay higher deductibles or copays for outpatient treatment
  • There may be caps on the coverage provided (E.g., some insurance providers cap coverage at about $25,000)

So, your insurance provider will always cover rehab but how much they cover and what specific institutions are covered can vary a great deal.

What Kind of Treatment Are You Going To?

If you’re going to outpatient treatment it’s almost always going to be easy to get coverage for your pets. If you’re going to inpatient treatment, you’re probably going to have a harder time getting coverage to begin with. For example, most insurance providers will cover outpatient treatment to the extent of regular mental healthcare. You might have a deductible per day/per visit or a deductible for the first visit. However, you’ll always get coverage and usually the standard provided by your plan with 40-90% depending on the level of Bronze-Platinum. That means that for outpatient treatment, coverage is normally relatively predictable.

If you’re opting for inpatient treatment, coverage is less clear. For example, some insurance providers will cover 40-90% of treatment costs minus significant deductibles and co-pays. For example, you might have a $200 per day copay. You might also have a 50% copay. These plans will typically all cover plans with pet care or pet friendly arrangements – but it does mean that the more your treatment costs, the more you’ll pay for it.

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What Pet Services Are Provided?

a male client lying on the sofa with his pet at a drug and rehab treatment center in riverside ca“Pet friendly” drug rehab can translate into a wider range of services. For example, your pet friendly rehab can include:

  • Pet daycare facilities like kennels and people to watch pets
  • Pets allowed in rooms
  • Pets incorporated into treatment and therapy
  • A mix of the above

So, pets allowed in rooms will normally come with a deposit or surcharge, much like hotels. This means you’ll pay a fee to cover any damage your pet might do in the space and can then bring your pet. Your insurance will almost never cover this fee as it’s not related to mental healthcare at all.

If you’re paying for pet care facilities that aren’t included as part of the base service, you’ll also expect to pay for that out of pocket. However, pet care will typically cost about the same as you would pay for having your pet in a kennel at home – which means you’ll pay about the same while having access to your pet during treatment.

Finally, if your pet is incorporated into treatment, you might get coverage from your insurance provider. Pet therapy and animal-assisted therapy are increasingly common – although this might require trained animals, it more often incorporates taking care of and bonding with an animal as part of the treatment. There’s no reason why that can’t be your own pet.

Here, it’s also important to pay attention to what’s offered as part of a pet friendly rehab. For example, if your rehab is only offering a kennel service, you might want to check if you’re allowed to see your pet at all. After all, some people might have allergies, your pet will have to be checked to ensure they can safely socialize with other patients, etc. Those create risks for other patients and for your pet.

What is Your Doctor’s Recommendation?

It’s important to start out your search for a pet friendly drug rehab by talking to your doctor. Here, you’ll want to discuss your reasons for wanting to take your pet with you, lack of pet care as an obstacle to getting treatment, and any emotional or support benefits you get from having a pet. The more strongly your doctor recommends you to a treatment center offering pet care, the more your insurance provider is going to be obligated to offer some coverage for the pet care as well. In addition, you’ll always need the recommendation to treatment to get care at all.

Here, it’s often a good idea to look at your provider’s network and figure out which treatment centers (if any) are in-network, so you have specific options to bring to your doctor before you start the discussion. And, of course, that discussion will almost always start with whether you need treatment at all – but chances are at this point you’ve already had that discussion.

Talking to Your Insurance Provider

The final say on whether your insurance provider covers pet friendly drug rehab is always going to come down to the provider. For example, most providers require that rehab institutions be:

  • Part of their network. Many plans simply do not offer coverage for out of network facilities. However, many do, so check your plan construction to be sure
  • A doctor’s recommendation to the facility. Most insurance providers want your doctor to send them a request for treatment and to refer you to that facility. You’ll always have to talk to your doctor.

You’ll also want to call your insurance provider to ask what coverage options are, what extra services are covered, and what the specific rules are. You might find your provider has a whole list of extra services like pet care that are partially covered. You might also find they don’t much care what’s included – so long as you stay within caps and pay everything over that. However, calling and understanding the rates and what the rules are will help you a great deal.

Eventually, finding a pet friendly drug treatment center can make it more accessible for you to get the treatment you need. Not having to worry about a pet means you’ll be better able to focus on treatment. Having the company of a pet can offer a lot of support as well. And, treatment centers are increasingly offering pet care and facilities, so you have more options than ever before.