How to Attract Clients to Your Substance Abuse Program?

July 7, 2019
Anna Jankowska, LCPC

By Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC

Anna Jankowska is a mental health, addiction, and substance abuse counselor with over 17 years of experience and has specialized training and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health outcomes. NPI number: 1598843526

There are many types of niches in private practice, and it takes time and effort to develop your niche.I have done that several times in my business beginning with one niche and then adding another one or phasing one that was no longer financially rewarding,One of the specialties that I developed is an outpatient substance abuse program.It took me a long time to figure out how to attract clients and who to approach about, i.e., am sharing it with you so you might be able to implement some of my ideas,

How to attract clients to your substance abuse program?

Consider Medicaid approval

Begin talking to your local state licensing agency and see if you can get approved for a Medicaid license specifically for providing substance abuse services. Even though it is a lot of bureaucracy but it is sometimes a foot in the door because the state might pay for the services that your clients need and you can offer the program to a wide variety of clients.The Medicaid program can also be a part of specific insurance companies, and you need to approach each insurance company separately and just ask if you can contract with them for Medicaid reimbursement. Each state might have different regulations, but it is worth exploring the possibilities.

How to attract clients to your substance abuse program?

Contract with insurance companies

Insurance companies also offer possibilities of contracts for specialized services such as intensive outpatient treatment. They need to approve your company, and then your program will be offered to clients who contact the specific insurance company.Remember that you have to approach each insurance company separately and seek contracting. Some insurance companies look for practitioners who only see clients for assessments and send a big volume of clients your way, but their reimbursement rate is usually very low. They sometimes require contractual agreement but not with every insurance company.You can also see your clients in groups in your regular private practice without specialized substance abuse programs but your rates will probably be lower, and the clients who contact the appropriate insurance will never know about your existence. Your effort of advertising would be entirely on you.

Offer special population programs.

Insurance companies as well as state agencies that offer Medicaid both like programs catering to teens, women, LGBT, bilingual or dual diagnosis clients.Even if the Medicaid program is scarce in your state, they are often willing to work with someone proposing much-needed services.

Contract with courts

Another much-overlooked way of getting clients is through the court system.Many counties offer their own contracts for specialized services including substance abuse programs. For example, a local probation department might offer a contract for providers who are willing to accept probationers with substance abuse issues, and the state will provide a full reimbursement for this service.Contractual agreements whether with courts, state agencies or insurance companies provide a steady stream of clients and allow you to run your business more predictably.Not all contractual agreements from courts or state agencies provide full reimbursement. Some might only offer a partial retirement, but regardless of this, they are a valuable referral source for clients who might pay out of the packet for their services.

Contract with community agencies

Some community agencies get grants to provide services to their clients, and they contract with other agencies to produce substance abuse services.These contracts could be long-term, or they could be created for each client separately. The second option might be specifically beneficial to the provider because the reimbursement is usually determined by the provider and the rates are generally higher due to the specificity of the contract.This could be a service provided to a bilingual client involved in a legal matter, and he or she would have difficulty finding such services.

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