There are around 2,000 drug abuse and addiction treatment facilities licensed to provide services in the state of California. About one out of every five California residents is considered to be living in poverty — the highest rate in the United States — when the high cost of living and housing prices are factored in.
The rate of uninsured residents in California was approximately 7.2 percent in 2017 — a number that continues to decline since the inception of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which improved access to insurance for millions of Californians. In fact, since the ACA took effect in 2013, the rate of uninsured individuals in California has dropped more than in any other state in the nation, falling 10 percentage points.
California also has a thriving public health insurance Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, which was the largest health insurance provider in the state in 2017 with over 10 million enrollees, per the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF). There still remains a large treatment gap for individuals who don't have insurance and struggle with financial hardship. Regardless of whether or not you have insurance, there are a multitude of drug abuse, addiction, and detox treatment programs supporting California residents.
Government-Supported Public Drug Treatment Options
Within the Golden State, public drug abuse treatment programs, under the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHS), are hosted on a county level through separate County Mental Health Departments. Each individual county in California has their own County Mental Health Department that oversees local public and private treatment providers.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) also hosts a directory of local public mental health services offices. Local county offices can offer information on federally or state-funded programs that provide treatment services to low-income and uninsured California residents. Services are provided through state- and county-run hospitals and contracted providers.
California Medicaid and Medicare Programs
Medicaid is the federally supported public insurance program open to low-income Americans and run through each individual state. In California, this program is called Medi-Cal, and it offers insurance to residents who might otherwise not be able to afford it. In order to be eligible for Medi-Cal, CDHS publishes that residents must be at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) based on annual income or meet the following eligibility requirements:
• Under age 21
• Over age 65
• On limited refugee status
• In an immediate care or skilled nursing home
Beneficiaries of Medi-Cal can receive drug abuse treatment and detox services through a managed care network of providers at the county level, DHCS publishes. The California Department of Managed Health Care can help California residents find an affordable healthcare plan that can then provide information on local covered healthcare providers that will be considered in-network.
The Substance Use Disorder County Access Lines breaks down contact information for drug abuse treatment and detox services in each one of California's 58 counties that residents can reach out to find public and Medi-Cal supported treatment services. The Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (DM ODS) is a pilot program working on integrating a full continuum of care for California residents based on evidence-based treatment criteria provided by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). This program also provides substance abuse care that is court-ordered through the criminal justice program.
Medicare is the federal insurance program for Americans over the age of 65, and it can also be used to help pay for drug abuse treatment services in California. Medicare Part A covers inpatient and hospital-based care while Part B can cover outpatient services, counseling, screening, assessments, and referrals to care. Medicare Part D provides coverage for medications aiding addiction treatment. Residents can qualify for both Medi-Cal and Medicare at the same time, which is called Medi-Medis or dual eligible. California Health Advocates publishes information on coverage, eligibility, and how to use it for treatment services.
Low-Cost and Free Treatment Options
To find free and low-cost detox and drug abuse treatment programs and services in the state of California, the best resource is the local County Mental Health Office, which can provide current information on contacted and community-based providers. Often, nonprofit organizations offer services for free or very low cost, depending on financial status and income eligibility. Facilities may also provide care based on a sliding scale, allowing individuals to pay for care as they are able.
Nonprofit organizations such as the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) can help residents to find affordable health care services. Many nonprofit and community-based providers are able to offer care, resources, referrals, and treatment services to local residents who have Medi-Cal or private insurance, and who may not have insurance or be able to afford healthcare on their own.
Again, local county offices can provide specific resources. Some examples of treatment providers offering free or low-cost drug abuse treatment services in California include the following:
• The California Hispanic Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (CHCADA) offers outpatient services to Latino residents as well as support through court-mandated programs.
• The Salvation Army California South Division provides care through five Southern California Adult Rehabilitation Centers (ARCs) and several local state-supported programs.
• The Salvation Army Golden State Division offers drug and alcohol treatment services in the San Francisco, Central Valley, and Central Coast region of the state.
• The National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (NCADD) affiliates provide information on local treatment and prevention programs partnering with the national NCADD.
• SHIELDS for Families is located in Southern Los Angeles and provides services and resources to strengthen the local community.
There are additional statewide recovery support providers that offer free services.
• Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
• Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
• California Area of CMA (Crystal Meth Anonymous)
• SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) Recovery
Using Insurance to Pay for Treatment
Individuals with health insurance can often use it to help pay for drug abuse treatment services. Treatment providers work closely with families to budget for drug detox and treatment programs. Many programs are low cost and budget friendly. Programs will often offer payment plans or accept insurance to defray the costs.
The Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can be helpful in finding treatment services in a local area based on services requested. It features information on treatment type, payment information, and whether the services provided are public, private, nonprofit, and accepting Medi-Cal and/or Medicare or private insurance.
No matter your financial status, there are a variety of drug detox and treatment services open to California residents. Public and free programs may have longer wait times and stricter eligibility requirements than fee-for-service options.
Access to care in California is expansive. There is a program for everyone who needs help regardless of their financial and insurance situation. Contact a local provider for more information.
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