Insurance Coverage for De-Addiction

Insurance Coverage for De-AddictionInsurance Coverage for De-Addiction

Treatment for drug addiction is not a short-term process and takes a year or longer for recovery. According to experts in related fields, the average cost for a year’s treatment to kick the habit is nearly two million rials ($550).

In 2014, an insurance plan to cover 70% of drug addiction treatment costs was proposed, and the High Insurance Council was committed to provide $8.1 million for its execution. Unfortunately, the plan was not implemented that year, the Persian-language newspaper ‘Sharq’ reported.  

However, the council and the State Welfare Organization (SWO) started a lengthy debate on the plan and whether or not it would be practical.

At the beginning of the current year (ends March 20) Ahmad Meidari, council secretary announced that according to a bill approved at the 49th meeting of the Harm Reduction, Treatment and Social Support Committee of the Iran Drug Control Headquarters, instructions for insurance coverage of patients addicted to narcotics and psychedelics “were notified to all competent organizations.”

“So far, 15,000 addicts have been registered on the PABA (the Persian acronym for Addiction Insurance Electronic File) website, and 70% of their treatment costs have been paid for,” Meidari said, adding that only those who have public health insurance coverage can benefit from the plan.

“As the allocated annual funding for the plan implementation is limited ($8.1 million), till the end of the current year only 150,000 addicts can be covered. The actual budget required to cover all drug addicts is $121.5 million,” he said.

There are 1.5 million addicts in the country (2% of the country’s population). Assuming that each of them has a 4-member family, this means that 6 million people are personally afflicted by the scourge. Around 9% of addicts in the country are women. Addiction indeed has been labeled as the ‘mother of all problems’.

Despite the limitations and flaws, the insurance plan can be considered a big stride in the fight against drug abuse. It indicates that authorities have recognized addiction as a chronic medical problem, just like heart disease or cancer, which should be covered in the same way by insurance.

At present, most of the addicts use industrial psychotropic substances which lead to more dependence than other narcotic drugs.

Other than the harm addiction can cause, studies show it also is the main cause of divorce in the country. The irrational behavior, paranoia and in several cases, criminal activities of drug addicts often leads to marriage breakdown, experts say.

Over the years most drug-rehabilitation programs have simply failed to produce the desired results. Experts and social scientists in and outside Iran have often called for workable mechanisms to fight the destructive social scourge first and foremost by curbing demand for the killer substances. However, available data indicates that this method too has flopped as there is no indication that there is less demand for the illegal drugs across continents.