While the substance abuse treatment industry is mostly peopled by those who are giving everything they have to fight the drug addiction epidemic, there are some individuals who are corrupt, abusing the system with the sole goal of making money. In South Florida, the problem was once rampant, but the good news is that there has been a crackdown in recent years, weeding out those companies and individuals that are more interested in profits than the wellbeing of clients and their families.
As a result of the investigations and arrests that took place in the process of getting the substance abuse treatment industry in South Florida in line with the right values and priorities, many programs shut down. While it made it safer for clients in Florida, it also opened them up to be preyed upon by out-of-state drug rehab facilities.
Have you been a victim?
The act of approaching people and actively trying to convince them to walk away from their current drug treatment program for money is called patient brokering. This practice is something that puts unnecessary burden on an already overtaxed healthcare system and insurance industry, and it jeopardizes the life of the client.
Here’s how it works. So-called patient brokers stand around outside 12-Step meetings or drug treatment facilities and try to convince people to switch rehab programs for the insurance money. They work for illicit sober homes or sham rehab programs that essentially offer the client a kickback for choosing to go to their program for treatment. Many people think it’s not that big of a deal, that it won’t hurt to change up their environment and get treatment somewhere new, but most who have done it report that they end up:
- Using the money to relapse
- Losing progress in the process of switching programs
- Relapsing during the time it takes to get going in the new program
- Never making it to the new program once they leave the first one
- Feeling like their focus isn’t in the right place and ultimately leave and relapse
New Legal Requirements = New Problems
As the Florida state government made legislative changes that limited and restricted the ability of sober homes or drug rehab programs to engage in patient brokering and other abuses and remain licensed, many treatment options were shut down in Florida. This is a good thing because it removed many poorly run facilities that were not helping patients to heal, but it has also meant fewer treatment options for the many people in Florida struggling with addiction. As a result, many out-of-state drug rehab programs that are not encumbered by such legislation designed to support clients’ health and best interest are coming here to Florida to prey on those in need of help. With the offer of incentives, they are being lured away from Florida and often away from families and support systems that are critical to their ability to stay sober.
Another issue is the insurance companies. Now aware of the abuses that have been perpetrated in the past by so-called “rehab” programs, they make it next to impossible to get coverage in many cases. Many sober homes and drug treatment programs are having a hard time keeping their doors open because they spend so much time simply chasing down coverage for basic and even brief treatment needs of clients. Other programs are forced to raise their rates to cover the costs of extra personnel that do nothing but deal with insurance companies and/or financial issues.
Though it is certainly a benefit to patients that there are far fewer programs out there abusing the system, it is also serving to make it more difficult for people to connect with effective care.
What You Can Do
- If you, or your loved one, have been victimized by a patient broker, report it to local authorities.
- If you are struggling to get your insurance company to provide basic coverage for medically needed drug addiction treatment services, report this as well.
- If you, or your loved one, are in need of treatment immediately, ask for help connecting with services that are needed as soon as possible.
- If you, or your loved one, are on a waiting list for treatment, keep looking for care that is appropriate and immediately accessible.
Have you been victimized by patient brokering? Are you ready to connect with treatment in Florida that is cohesive, comprehensive, and available to help you heal?