Paying for treatment

If you don’t have insurance

Some facilities offer free or low-cost care, sliding scale fees based on your income, or have payment assistance available.

You’ll need an estimate of your annual income and a correct count of your family members to determine if you’re eligible for some services. You don’t have to know exactly how much you make, just get as close as you can, and don’t worry if it’s not perfect. (See what counts as income on healthcare.gov.)

Additionally, every state has funding to provide treatment for people without insurance. Contact your state agency for information on how the process works in your state.

You may also be able to purchase insurance now and take advantage of those benefits as soon as you can (usually two weeks to one month after you sign up). You’ll be able to enroll in a new plan if you:

  • Do it during an open enrollment period. For a limited period of time each year, federal- and state-run insurance exchanges allow anyone to sign up for or change their plans. In most states, enrollment for 2020 will be November 1 - December 15, 2019.
  • Have a qualifying life event. For 60 days after a major change in your life, like having a baby, getting married or divorced, or getting U.S. citizenship, you’re eligible to sign up for new insurance. Learn more about qualifying events.          
  • Are eligible for Medicaid. In most states, if you make less than $17,236 as an individual or $29,435 in a family of three, you’re eligible for free or low-cost health coverage. You can apply for Medicaid at any time — there’s no enrollment period. Contact your state Medicaid agency for more details if you think you might be eligible.

Some individual treatment facilities offer grants or scholarships to help offset the cost of attending. Not all of these will cover your whole stay, though, and many will revoke funding if you don’t complete their program, leaving you financially responsible for the time you spent there. Before accepting any grants or scholarships, make sure you ask questions about what (if any) strings are attached to that money.


(Page published: October 2019)