People who suffer a substance use disorder require high-quality treatment to successfully manage their disease and achieve long-term recovery. However, some people are hesitant to enter rehab—for any number of reasons. Some people are loath to leave their families for an extended period of time. Others worry about leaving their home unattended.Many worry that their employer or future employers will discover that they have a substance use disorder, especially if they use insurance for addiction treatment. If you are worried about using your insurance to pay for rehab because of how addiction treatment may reflect upon your reputation as an employee or job candidate, there are some important things you need to know.

Health and Confidentiality

In the United States, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act protects people who seek out treatment at a rehab or addiction treatment center.1 In essence, by law, addiction sufferers have a right to confidential addiction treatment. Even so, many are still scared to use insurance for addiction treatment out of fear that their privacy will somehow be compromised.

All patients, no matter their illness, should take time to understand HIPAA because it was designed to safeguard patient information. Consequently, people seeking treatment should never be afraid to use insurance for addiction treatment or any other medical treatment.

How to Use Insurance for Addiction Treatment

Before entering rehab, it’s a good idea to discuss your coverage options with your insurer. Remember that HIPAA protects you, so your insurer cannot release your confidential health information to any other party without your consent. Moreover, they cannot drop you from coverage because you happen to have an addiction to alcohol or drugs. If your premiums are paid, you have a right to use insurance for addiction treatment.

Confidentiality and Work: It’s Tricky

Man leaning his head against a wall

Most rehab programs last for periods of 30, 60 or 90 days. Even a short stay can be problematic for people’s careers. In order to take off work for an extended period of time, a medical excuse is generally needed. Addiction treatment is a medical process. If you need to take a medical leave of absence for your addiction treatment, you should note that you are protected from discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act.2 You may also qualify for unpaid leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act. Additionally, some businesses offer employee assistance to help employees going through personal crises.

In short, you will need to let your employer know to a certain extent why you are requesting a leave of absence, but your healthcare provider can provide you with the documentation you need and you should not be afraid to use insurance for addiction treatment. Your insurer is not obligated to discuss your health with your employer and legally cannot provide them with your confidential information.

If you have a health insurance policy, you should use insurance to pay for addiction treatment. No job is more important than your health. A substance use disorder can and will cause your mental and physical health to deteriorate, so the sooner treatment is obtained, the better. If you are concerned about who else may find out about your addiction treatment, discuss your worries with an addiction specialist. They can explain how HIPAA protects you, how their policies protect you and how to use insurance to pay for addiction treatment.