New Law Requires Insurance to Cover Opiate Addiction Treatments

Published 06/23 2014 08:04PM

Updated 06/24 2014 09:31AM

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Patients at Conifer Park Outpatient Clinic are there to get clean, but they're not always covered by insurance.

“I was trying to go to detox and my insurance wasn't covering it,” Rachel McDuffie said. Now she is receiving outpatient treatment at Conifer Park.

McDuffie has a two-year-old son and has been battling opiate addiction for a short time. She was also fighting her health insurance to help pay for her treatment. She lost and switched to Medicaid.

“Pretty frustrating you know, especially I have a son and we have two different insurance (providers),” McDuffie said.

Conifer Park's Michelle Collings says working with insurance companies is a constant battle.

“Basically what they're saying is people with that experience of opiate withdrawal are not going to die. So it's not medically necessary,” Collings said.

On Monday, New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law that would mandate all insurance companies to cover opiate-related treatments, including inpatient and outpatient clinics, as well as suboxone and methadone.

While patients at Conifer Park are elated about the changes in policy a lot of insurance companies across New York wanted some changes of their own before this legislation came into place.

A spokesperson for the New York Health Plan Association says a working group to look into the law will help insurers adapt. They want to see a grading system for clinics and they also say rate payers could eventually see an increase to cover this mandate.

The law takes effect April 2015, but there’s an important rule regarding deadlines. Insurance will only cover opiate treatments if the policy has been renewed or started after April 2015.

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