Understanding United Healthcare Drug Treatment Coverage

Learn about using your UHC insurance policy to cover substance abuse treatment


Alcohol and Drug Treatment Coverage with UHC

When you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, navigating treatment options and insurance coverage can be overwhelming.

UnitedHealthcare (UHC) provides coverage for alcohol and drug treatment.

This guide will help you understand network coverage, claims approval, plan types, deductibles, and financial hardships.

Understanding your insurance coverage will better prepare you to focus on recovery and lead a healthier, substance-free life.

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Addictions we treat at Cornerstone

UHC drug treatment coverage

When considering addiction treatment, it’s essential to understand the benefits and drawbacks of choosing an in-network provider with your UHC policy. In-network treatment centers have a contractual agreement with UHC, which often translates to lower out-of-pocket costs. These providers have negotiated rates with the insurance company, resulting in reduced copays, coinsurance, and deductibles.

In-network providers have met UHC’s quality standards, ensuring that you receive appropriate care. However, the downside is that you may need more options when selecting a specific treatment center or location. Researching and confirming that the in-network facility offers care and services that align with your needs is crucial.

Information about UHC Plan Types

UHC’s HMO plans typically require choosing a primary care physician (PCP) who coordinates your care and provides referrals to specialists when necessary.1

In most cases, HMO plans only cover treatment from in-network providers, except in emergencies.

While HMO plans often have lower monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs, they offer less flexibility regarding provider choice.2

PPO plans offered by UHC provide more flexibility than HMO plans.

You can generally receive care from both in-network and out-of-network providers, although choosing an in-network provider usually results in lower out-of-pocket costs.

With a PPO plan, you don’t need to select a PCP or obtain referrals to see specialists.3

UHC’s EPO plans combine features of HMO and PPO plans. Like HMOs, EPO plans typically don’t cover out-of-network care except in emergencies.

However, like PPOs, you usually don’t need to choose a PCP or get referrals for specialist care.

EPO plans often have lower monthly premiums compared to PPO plans.4

UHC’s POS plans blend aspects of HMO and PPO plans.

You’ll need to select a PCP who coordinates your care, but you can see out-of-network providers if you’re willing to pay higher out-of-pocket costs.

Seeing in-network providers or obtaining a referral from your PCP generally results in lower costs.5

UHC’s HDHP plans feature lower monthly premiums but higher deductibles than other plan types.

These plans can be paired with a health savings account (HSA) to help cover out-of-pocket expenses.

Once you meet your deductible, your plan starts sharing the cost of covered services.6

UHC also offers managed care plans for Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries.

These plans are designed to coordinate care and provide additional benefits beyond what’s typically covered by standard Medicaid and Medicare programs.

Eligibility and coverage details vary by state and plan type.

Understanding Policy Definitions

A deductible is the amount you pay for covered healthcare services before your UHC insurance plan starts to pay.

For example, if your plan has a $1,000 deductible, you must pay the first $1,000 of covered services yourself.

Once you’ve met your deductible, your insurance will share the cost of covered services according to your plan’s co-insurance or copayment requirements.

It’s important to note that some plans may have separate deductibles for in-network and out-of-network care, and not all services may be subject to the deductible.

UHC Approval Process for Treatment

Before beginning addiction treatment, the first step is to verify your UHC insurance coverage. The treatment center you choose will contact UHC to confirm your active policy and determine the specifics of your coverage, such as deductibles, copayments, and co-insurance. They will also inquire about any prior authorization requirements for the services you need. Once your coverage is verified, the treatment center will inform you of any out-of-pocket expenses you may be responsible for, helping you understand what amount you will have to pay (if any) to get treatment. To streamline this process, you can provide your insurance information to the treatment center in advance.

Get Help Paying Your Deductible

File a Hardship With UHC 

If you’re struggling to pay your deductible for drug treatment, one option is to file a hardship with UHC. A hardship is a situation that prevents you from affording your medical expenses, such as job loss, a family crisis, or unexpected financial burdens. To file a hardship, contact UHC directly and provide documentation of your financial situation. If approved, UHC may waive or reduce your deductible, making necessary treatment more accessible. Remember, the success of your hardship application depends on your specific circumstances and UHC’s assessment.

Assistance Programs & Payment Plans 

Many drug treatment centers offer assistance programs and payment plans to help make treatment more accessible and affordable. These programs can help you manage out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles and co-insurance. Some centers offer sliding-scale fees based on your income, while others may provide scholarships or grants to eligible individuals. Treatment centers may allow you to spread your payments over time through a payment plan, making it more manageable to cover your share of the costs. When selecting our treatment center, inquire about available assistance programs and payment plans.

Community Resources & Charitable Organizations

In some cases, community resources and charitable organizations may be able to help you cover your drug treatment deductible. These organizations recognize the importance of accessible and affordable addiction treatment and may provide financial assistance to those in need. Some examples include faith-based organizations, local non-profits focused on addiction recovery, and national charities dedicated to helping individuals overcome substance abuse. Research the organizations in your area and contact them to learn more about their assistance programs.

FAQs About Using UHC Benefits
to Pay for Alcohol and Drug Treatment

What types of addiction treatment does UHC cover?

UnitedHealthcare (UHC) typically covers a comprehensive range of addiction treatment services to support individuals in their recovery journey.

These services include:

  1. Inpatient Rehab: This involves intensive, residential treatment programs where patients stay at a facility and receive 24-hour care. These programs are designed to provide a structured environment with medical supervision, therapy sessions, and support groups to help individuals recover from addiction.
  2. Outpatient Programs: These programs allow patients to live at home while attending treatment sessions during the day or evening. Outpatient services can vary in intensity, including Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), and standard outpatient therapy. This flexibility allows individuals to continue with their daily responsibilities while receiving treatment.
  3. Detox: Detoxification services are crucial for safely managing withdrawal symptoms as individuals cease substance use. UHC typically covers medical detox, which involves supervision by healthcare professionals to ensure the patient’s safety and comfort during withdrawal.
  4. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): MAT combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders. Medications like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for individuals to maintain sobriety. MAT is often used for opioid addiction but can also be effective for alcohol and other substance use disorders.
  5. Counseling and Therapy: UHC covers individual and group therapy sessions integral to addiction treatment. These sessions provide psychological support, coping strategies, and tools to address the underlying issues contributing to substance use.
  6. Aftercare and Relapse Prevention: Aftercare services are essential for maintaining long-term recovery. These may include follow-up therapy sessions, support groups, and other resources to prevent relapse and provide ongoing support.


However, the specific services covered can vary depending on your UHC plan.

It is essential to review your plan details and speak with a UHC representative to understand the exact coverage and any potential out-of-pocket costs associated with your treatment.

Will I need to get pre-authorization for addiction treatment?

In many cases, you will need to obtain pre-authorization from UHC before starting addiction treatment.

This means that UHC will review your case to determine if the proposed treatment is medically necessary and covered under your plan. 

At Cornerstone, we proudly accept UHC, so there is no need to worry about finding an alcohol and drug rehab that accepts your insurance.

Please complete our UHC insurance verification to start your recovery journey with us today!

How much will I have to pay out-of-pocket for addiction treatment?

Your out-of-pocket costs for addiction treatment will depend on your specific UHC plan.

Factors impacting your costs include deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and the maximum out-of-pocket.

Please get in touch with UHC or us at Cornerstone for more information about your out-of-pocket expenses.

What happens if UHC denies my claim for addiction treatment?

If UHC denies your claim for addiction treatment, don’t lose hope!

Our treatment center’s billing department will likely file an appeal on your behalf.

They will work to gather additional information and make a strong case for why the services should be covered.

Our treatment center is experienced in navigating the appeals process and will do its best to ensure you receive the care you need.


lionel estrada LISAC headshot clinical director scottsdale

Lionel Estrada, LISAC


Lionel, our Clinical Director is a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC) with over 4 years at Cornerstone, specializes in addiction and mental health. Trained in EMDR therapy, he employs a trauma-informed, empathetic approach to address the underlying causes of these issues.

Still have questions about treatment?

Our admissions specialists are here to explain the process, answer any questions you may have, and ensure you’re getting the help you need to live a healthy life free from addiction.

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