Liz Sheffield

Rehab Insurance: Is Drug Rehab a Covered Benefit for Your Employees?

With the opioid crisis escalating, it’s important for companies to consider drug rehab and addiction recovery benefits as an important part of their offerings. Recovery from addiction is a long process that often benefits from a variety of treatments. The stigma of drug addiction is falling away as medical practitioners and insurance providers increasingly come to view it as a treatable medical condition.

Health care and insurance providers understand that not addressing addiction can lead to long-lasting adverse psychiatric and physical effects that may cause health issues and make treatment even more costly. The amount of time required for treatment varies, often as a result of how the brain has been altered by drug use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these changes in the brain can persist even after drug use has stopped.

Here’s what you need to know to help your employees combat and recover from drug addiction.

Drug Rehab Coverage Must Mirror Other Offerings

If your organization provides insurance benefits to employees, then assisting with the costs of drug rehab may be mandated. According to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, any limitations applied to benefits around mental health and substance abuse services — such as financial restrictions or time frame limits — must not be more restrictive than those applied to other health benefits.

The Affordable Care Act also requires that health insurance plans provide substance abuse treatment coverage. It’s worth noting, too, that employees who have recovered or are in recovery from legal or illegal drug use are protected from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

These regulatory factors make it imperative that organizations consult with benefits experts and legal advisors to ensure that their plans and policies adhere to federal and local laws.

Communication About Addiction Benefits Increases Awareness

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the top reasons that individuals don’t receive substance abuse treatment are lack of coverage and costs that are too high. It’s essential to communicate with your employees about their coverage. They may be unaware that affordable options are at their disposal. Set up a communications plan to ensure that employees know how to access these benefits and get their coverage questions answered.

Include information about these benefits in your overall health insurance program messaging. Use the same communication channels, making sure to address the needs of your multilingual workforce, and continue sharing the message all year.

Keep in mind that employees may be embarrassed by the stigma of having an addiction — and they may even worry about retaliation. Given the sensitive nature of addiction recovery, it’s important to handle communications with a nonjudgmental and open approach that invites and empowers employees to seek the help they want and need.

Opioid Epidemic: Why Employers Should Care and What They Can Do About It Read article

Assist Employees to Receive Drug Rehab Coverage on Their Plan

Many workplaces offer employee assistance programs (or EAPs) to help employees connect with counseling services or find treatment resources like support groups and recovery programs. As part of your benefits communication strategy, highlight the EAP as one place where employees can get support in addressing the addiction recovery needs they or covered family members have.

Drug addiction and its effects in the workplace can’t be ignored. Nearly 70 percent of the estimated 22.4 million illicit drug users in the United States are employed, according to SAMHSA. The long-term repercussions of addiction not only influence individual employee wellness, but also impact the broader workplace environment. This makes addiction recovery an urgent issue for organizations to address. By providing employees and their families with addiction and drug rehab treatment benefits — plus clear awareness of and openness around those benefits — you improve the chances that they will get the help they need.

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This content is provided solely for informational purposes. It is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal, accounting, tax and/or other professional advisers.