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How can we pay for our teens treatment?

By Stephen C. Schultz

As a partner in a residential treatment program, I often have conversations with clinicians, educational consultants, school district administration teams and parents about the much needed services of residential treatment. The one question that is always discussed, but usually is also the last one asked is;  “How Much Does it Cost?


There is no question that privately funding treatment for your son or daughter can be an additional stress on the family above and beyond the struggles of your teen. For this reason, I have put together, in one place, some of the ideas and resources that parents have used to assist in funding treatment for their teen. Often it takes some creativity and persistence, but many families have been able to accomplish what seems impossible in the beginning. Families usually end up using a few of the options listed below. I hope you find this helpful.


Here are a few quick suggestions:
  • TREATMENT LENDERS - There are finance companies that specialize in the funding of mental health and substance abuse treatment. One such lender that has worked with treatment programs is Prosper Healthcare Lending. National and International treatment providers such as Discovery Academy, Discovery Ranch, Redcliff ascent, Oxbow Academy and Discovery Ranch for Girls have all been funded through Prosper Healthcare Lending.
  • CREDIT OR PERSONAL LOAN - Talk with your financial institution, perhaps you have enough room on a credit card, or you could take a personal loan.
  • HOME EQUITY LOAN -  If you own your own home, you may be able to take out a home equity loan. Interest rates vary, but are generally low.
  • DONATIONS - You may be surprised at who in your family or circle of friends would be willing and honored to help you. We had a father who was a fireman. He spoke to the fire chief who sent a letter through a national firefighters association. Firemen from across the country donated to assist this father's son in getting help.
  • BORROWING FROM LOVED ONES - Consider all of the people in your life that love your son or daughter. Grandparents, step-parents,  aunts, uncles, siblings and Godparents to name a few. All can be approached. Brainstorm the people who could help you financially and make a list. Then strategize a tactful and sensitive way to approach them. You may be surprised at their willingness to help.  It could be a gift, or it could be a loan, with set guidelines for re-payments.
  • CHURCH OR SYNAGOGUE  - There have been situations where the family has been in consultation with their Church or Synagogue and have worked out financial arrangements through that avenue.
  • USE OF COLLEGE FUNDS - If your son or daughter is involved in illegal or physically risky behavior behavior, it may be in their best interest for you to use any college savings for treatment. First things first!
  • SALE OF RECREATIONAL/PERSONAL PROPERTY - Do you have something that you can sell, like a boat, or motorcycle, a car, cabin at the lake or jewelry? Do you have stocks, bonds or a timeshare?
  • HEALTH INSURANCE - With the current benefits required by The Affordable Care Act, more and more insurance companies are covering mental health and substance abuse care. There is actually a new Billing Code for Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare or otherwise known as Wilderness Treatment Programs. However, parents do need to know that even though benefits are often cited by their insurance carrier, the amounts paid out, number of covered days, copayment amounts and choices for “In Network” treatment are often very limited. If parental choice in a treatment partner is important to you, then a combination of the above listed efforts will result in the most cost effective and productive placement for your teen. Recognizing that you will have the most involvement and “personal say” in your teens treatment through choosing an “Out of Network” provider will be important in identifying a clinical partner that specializes in your teens very personal and specific care. By using an “Out of Network” provider, insurance reimbursement can be  fifty percent and sometimes as high as eighty percent depending on the plan. This also allows you, the parents, to choose the most appropriate place for your teen and not be subjected to “Panel Providers” who are “In Network” at a discounted rate with predetermined lengths of stay and limited outpatient visits. If parent choice and more personal involvement are important to you, then an “Out of Network” provider may be the best option.

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