New Nonprofit To Fund Patient Copays For Addiction Treatment

By John Lavitt 05/06/16

ICAN offers limited scholarships that specifically cover an insured patient's out-of-pocket costs for treatment.

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New Nonprofit To Fund Patient Copays For Addiction Treatment
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Even though addiction treatment is considered an essential service under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, people seeking treatment still struggle to pay for it out-of-pocket. But a new organization is hoping to address this need by offering to cover the cost of addiction treatment for those eligible.

Attorney Michael C. Barnes created the Insured Consumer Access Network for people with a substance use disorder, who have private insurance and demonstrate financial need. By offering scholarships to pay for an insured patient's out-of-pocket treatment costs—including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance—the organization's goal is to relieve the financial burden of paying for extended treatment, which can cost thousands of dollars.

A large part of the burden is due to the "institutional discrimination against addiction treatment," Barnes told the Addiction Professional. People seeking treatment for substance use disorder are not offered the same kind of support and financial aid that are offered to the general patient population. For instance, pharmaceutical companies can offer financial aid for high-cost drugs, and providers can forgive copay/deductible charges for those in need—but this isn't often the case for people seeking addiction treatment.

Many treatment facilities are put in a bind when dealing with clients who are unable to pay the out-of-pocket cost of treatment, Barnes explained. If the client pays just part of the cost up front, some insurance companies will only reimburse the treatment provider that amount. "The program is unable to collect payment despite having provided services," said Barnes.

Another key part of the organization's scholarship program is that all treatment providers involved must sign an ethics pledge, to ensure that they're up to standards. “There is a great deal of waste, fraud and abuse in the addiction treatment field, so we will ask any program that would be a beneficiary of the individual with the scholarship to sign an ethics pledge," said Barnes. "To the extent that this is a competitive market, we hope we will see competition in the area of ethical compliance. It would be great to see a program call out another program on ethics, but we do not want to be a clearinghouse for complaints." 

ICAN hopes to be operational by the fall. It is currently accepting scholarship applications on its website. 

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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