Drug Rehab Caught Exploiting Addicts
At the end of last month 11 people were arrested for exploiting drug addicts. The horrifying thing is five of them were doctors.
Fountain Valley Drug Treatment Center located in Orange County, California is allegedly responsible for a pay-for-implants scam. This scam consisted of convincing recovering drug addicts to get an implant that is supposed to help with drug cravings and prevent relapse. On the surface it may seem this is “not that big of a deal”, but if you look closer, the motives for this “treatment” are quite sinister.
According to reports, the drug and alcohol “treatment” center was recruiting addicts to get the treatment, so they could profit by billing insurance for the treatment at an average of $40,000 per surgery!!!
One might say “medical treatments are expensive” and “addicts getting help is never a bad thing” and I would not necessarily disagree. However, there are details to this operation that may shock you.
The first one is that the facility hired people called “body brokers.” According to allegations, these people were not only getting paid to get treatment but were getting paid for convincing other addicts to get the treatment as well. These “body brokers” were recovering addicts who were paid up to $700 for getting this implant.
They would also infiltrate AA meetings to recruit others to get implants, and in return for these “recruits,” they would get paid $300. Unfortunately, these “body brokers” were not trying to help those people, they were trying to get paid. They sought out people with certain types of insurance policies, so the treatment facility could cash in. One of the most shocking things about this scheme is not all the addicts getting the implant were benefitting from it.
The implant in discussion is a form of naloxone, which blocks opioid receptors in the brain. It also helps curb cravings and prevents an individual from getting “high” when using opioids. This acts as a deterrent and is supposed to prevent relapse. It was reported that some of the patients who received this implant were not even opioid addicts. People who had a history of methamphetamine abuse were getting signed up to get this treatment, which means the Doctors were knowingly giving implants to people for whom the “treatment” was not intended.
If that isn’t a clear indicator this scheme was money motivated, I do not know what is. Although everyone involved is innocent until proven guilty, it shines the light of an all too common practice, Medical professionals taking advantage of addicts for monetary gains.
All too often there are reports of drug treatment facilities preying on individuals with addiction. Centers look for ways to profit instead of ways to help people. Unfortunately, our country has a large population of people who could benefit from the services of drug rehab. The sad part is many companies see this as an opportunity. Not an opportunity to save lives but an opportunity for them to line their pockets.
Just like any service with a high demand, drug rehabilitation has a tremendous amount of options. It is up to the individual looking for these services to do their due diligence and ensure they are not being taken advantage of.
The best indicator to notice is when you first call into a center looking for assistance. When you are talking to someone about getting help, you can see quickly whether they are there to help or they are trying to make a profit.
If a facility immediately asks what insurance you have before talking to you about your problems, take that as a red flag. However, there are facilities that do want to help. You will find the staff at those places will talk with you and figure out your needs before jumping into questions about insurance and finances.
Don’t be a victim and allow yourself to get taken advantage of. Ask questions. A good addiction treatment facility will explain in detail what they offer and how they can help. A bad facility will ask about money and insurance first. This is a relatively simply litmus test for the integrity of the organization you are dealing with.