At GateHouse Treatment, we have written about this before and we will write about it again. Mainly because it is important. There are so many websites, ads, and phone numbers out there designed to look like helplines when they are not. When you decide to search for treatment for addiction, time is of the essence. You need to find a treatment center that has openings, accepts your insurance and meets your needs–all before you or your loved one lose the nerve to get help. In the industry, this is called a crisis moment. The vulnerability and desperation that many people feel when picking a treatment center has given rise to a culture of unethical practices in the addiction treatment industry. They are literally taking advantage of that crisis moment.
While shady business practices happen in recovery centers across the country, Florida has made the most headlines. In 2015, the insurance company Cigna announced that it wouldn’t offer policies in the state because of the booming recovery industry known for ripping off insurance companies. More recently, sober homes have been accused of taking kickbacks and a Florida doctor was recently sentenced to ten years in Federal prison for his part in a sober home scheme. This stems from a culture in which individuals and companies seek to profit off people struggling with addiction. Where there is demand, there is supply.
One of the most common unethical practices in the treatment industry is patient brokering, where a third party receives money for sending pre-qualified patients to a treatment center. People seeking help often call these third-party businesses which are marketed to look like help lines, not realizing that they are operating for profit and receiving between 1,000 and 7,000 dollars per patient they refer. Although some states, including Florida, now have laws against patient brokering, the practice remains common.
Treatment centers have also been known to charge high amounts for drug testing or order more drug testing than is needed or covered by insurance. Treatment centers have also been caught incentivizing patients to stay in treatment so they can continue billing the insurance–even paying people to relapse. However, not all schemes are quite so apparent. Even offering a free flight to treatment should raise a red flag. Enticing offers like this might indicate that a treatment center is focused more on attracting clients than on providing a high level of care.
All of this, of course, makes it difficult for people to find quality help when they need it the most. That is why we recommend, whenever possible, you seek help from a loved one during this process. You should not be afraid to ask questions about a treatment center’s policies and to confirm separately with the insurance companies about what their coverage will be. Treatment centers that are accredited through the Joint Commission are good too (GateHouse is) and have undergone screening.
When initially searching for a treatment center, it is important to realize many websites, ads and phone numbers are designed to look like help lines. Only use a number associated specifically with a treatment center. It is up to you to protect yourself.
If you are interested in more information about treatment centers, contact GateHouse Treatment today.