COVID-19 Relief Bill Allows Millions to Reclaim Healthcare Coverage at No Cost

Most Americans are excited to finally get some relief now that the COVID-19 stimulus bill passed. While most of the focus seems to be on the $1,400 checks sent out to qualifying recipients, the law also extends free healthcare coverage through September for millions of Americans who lost coverage due to the economic toll caused by the pandemic.

Under the law, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) health coverage will be available with no premiums to anyone who lost their employer-provided healthcare since April 2020 and will last until September 2021. This option will only be available for people who don’t qualify for other programs, such as job-based coverage or Medicare.

This option becomes available on April 1, 2021. Plan administrators must notify eligible people within 60 days after that date.

How Does this Impact Addiction Treatment?

In addition to the devastating rates of sickness and death caused by the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic has also dealt an enormous blow to many people’s mental health, which in turn has caused a spike in addiction rates and overdoses.

But without healthcare coverage, rehabilitation for substance use disorder (SUD) is out of most people’s price range. In fact, even before the pandemic struck, the top reason people who need treatment for SUD but did not receive it is that they lacked coverage and couldn’t afford it.

Fortunately, with the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), millions of people who lost their coverage and either already had a substance misuse problem or developed one during lockdown now regain coverage through their past employer and the COBRA program. This means many people will now be able to afford the treatment for their addiction that they desperately need.

Why Would Someone Need Help with Drug or Alcohol Addiction?

A common misconception about addiction is that it is a choice. In fact, SUD is a chronic mental disease that causes someone to seek and misuse drugs or alcohol even at great cost to themselves and their loved ones. It is much more than physical dependency on a substance and it is something people with SUD must grapple with their whole lives. That said, addiction is treatable. Many people just need professional help to get and remain sober.

The first stage of treatment is typically detox. Withdrawal can be very unpleasant and, in some cases, dangerous without medical supervision. With medical detox, medical staff monitors patients and ensures they are safe and comfortable as possible. This often involves prescribing medication to ease withdrawal symptoms.

Once someone completes detox, it’s important they continue treatment through residential or outpatient rehabilitation. Rehab is where patients undergo therapy and medication-assisted treatment (if necessary) to rewire thought patterns and set themselves up for long-term recovery.

If you or a loved one has been struggling with substance misuse but have been delaying treatment due to losing your health insurance, the COVID-19 relief bill may provide the financial support you need to be able to afford treatment. Please reach out to an admissions navigator at to learn about rehab treatment in Texas at Greenhouse Treatment Center or any other American Addiction Centers’ (AAC) facilities.

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