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When you seek professional help for substance use (or any other behavior issue), you made a deliberate decision to eliminate outside distractions and focus on self-improvement. The last thing you should have to do is reconsider your choice because of confidentiality concerns. However, that's easier said than done, because if you enter a rehab or treatment facility that accepts insurance, your record of treatment is not completely confidential.
The unfortunate truth of addiction treatment is that anonymity is promised but impossible to maintain. Any program that accepts insurance or is a 12 Step program that includes a medical diagnosis and medical treatment is a program that exposes its patients' records to people they'll never meet. From psychiatric counseling sessions to methadone doses, every detail of your treatment is documented for payment purposes.
So who, exactly, will have access to your rehab records? Before you seriously consider any rehab or other drug and alcohol treatment providers, learn why the following people may be involved in your deeply personal journey.
Every time your doctor, therapist, or counselor meets with you, they take notes about your progress and their own prognosis. Whether they or a staff member turn these notes into medical records, you can be sure that a transcriptionist will eventually enter them into the computer, translating treatment techniques into medical billing codes and making sure the right medical, clinical and legal language is used in your claims.
After your insurance company receives these records, someone will be assigned to your case to determine whether your medical need was legitimate. This is problematic enough on its own, because you could receive unexpected bills that throw off your budget if you don't answer intrusive questions or provide even more details. However, even if everything is processed smoothly, there are multiple people at the insurance company who must be involved in the entire process. Some reviewers may be at on site at your drug or alcohol rehab to review and others may review after the records are received at the insurance company. Often the records are reviewed multiple times when there are denials, resubmissions and further reviews are requested which can bring further levels of review and — you guessed it — more people into the process.
Because rehab records are medical and clinical records, many patients assume their permission is required to reveal them to a third party. However, court orders may at times completely circumvent this policy. If your rehab stay is one of the conditions you must meet to move past a drug possession or drunk driving charge, your judge may request legal proof. You could even find yourself in court years later for something that isn't criminal at all, such as a custody battle, and watch helplessly as a judge subpoenas your records to verify your financial or medical status or the determination of your fitness as a parent.
The diagnosis of what is now known as Substance Use Disorder is considered a progressive, incurable, lifelong disease that requires ongoing treatment to battle. Whereas the disease diagnosis is said to reduce stigma, the exact opposite is true with respect to your rights. An SUD diagnosis can affect gaining and maintaining custody of your children, maintaining a professional license such as physician, nurse, pilot or attorney; and it can affect your rights to own a firearm or drive a car, even long after you have stopped using substances. Many people who attend treatment and receive the SUD diagnosis are forced to attend ongoing therapy and 12 step support meetings in order to satisfy the courts, get back and maintain a professional license or driver's license and be able to see their children.
The Freedom Model Retreats is a nonprofit, non 12 step alternative to treatment offering a residential program with a fixed cost and we only accept private payments. Because we're not a medical or clinical facility, and we don't interact with insurance providers and other third parties for payment, there are no clinical records of a diagnosis or treatment for any condition or disease. Your information is truly kept confidential during your stay and long after you've left the retreat and moved on with your life. We will provide documentation of your stay with us to a specific party at your request ONLY.