Kevin MD linked to a New York Times article describing the huge amounts the New York Medicaid program pays for addiction services:
Through its Medicaid program, New York spends far more than other states on drug and alcohol treatment, including more than $300 million a year paid to hospitals for more than 30,000 detox patients.
Addiction services cost so much in New York for several reasons:
1. lack of outpatient follow up care- when patients are discharged — typically after about five days — the needed transition to an outpatient treatment program often never occurs. That is one reason many patients do not fully recover from their addictions and return to detox wards, experts say.
2. addicts going on drug holidays to reduce their tolerance - Some drug users, especially those on opiates, also set out to clean their systems so they can reduce the dose needed to get high, according to addicts and those who treat them. For a homeless addict, the cost of each dose is a major concern
3. homelessness But at its core, experts say, the overuse of costly inpatient programs is connected to the lack of housing for homeless people. People are less likely to admit themselves to hospitals, and more likely to adhere to treatment programs, when they are not living on the streets.
4. New York medicaid rules encouraging expensive inpatient treatment- In other states, most addicts who go through detox programs do so on an outpatient basis, while in New York the vast majority are inpatients. Medicaid rules in New York also encourage hospitals to provide the most expensive kind of inpatient detoxification, though it is often not medically necessary, while many other states favor a less expensive form of inpatient treatment. ...it pays more than $1,300 a day for medically managed detox — and state officials estimate that more than 40 percent of that is profit for the hospitals. Hospital executives say the margin is not that high, but they concede that the most expensive form of detoxification is a significant money-maker. As a result, many hospitals offer that program, but not the cheaper ones. By law, hospitals cannot turn away emergency patients, and drug or alcohol withdrawal is considered an emergency. So about 80 percent of the detox patients handled by hospitals in New York are treated at the most expensive level — often because it is the only one available.