Sleazy rehab centers keep addicts hooked on drugs to collect insurance money

Justin Zipprich
Justin Zipprich
Sleazy rehab centers keep addicts hooked on drugs to collect insurance money

As long as there has been insurance, there have been insurance scams.

Whether it has been taking out multiple policies on one person, taking out policies on random homeless people on the street or fudging the numbers on an insurance application, there is always someone looking to make a quick buck off of someone else’s suffering.

Just recently, reports have surfaced stating that some drug treatment centers are actively working to keep their patient’s drug addicted so that the center and the people that run it can keep collecting insurance money.

The problem seems to be more rampant in Florida, where rehab centers are a $1 billion industry. It is here where the drug problem is truly out of control with a reported two people overdosing from drugs (specifically opioids) every day in Palm Beach County alone.

In one story, Michelle Holley, a woman out of Fort Lauderdale, took her daughter to one of the most prominent centers, the Reflections treatment center, because she was suffering from a heroin addiction.

According to her story on ABC News, she first visited the facility and was impressed what she saw. “It looked fine. They were saying all the right things to me. I could not help my child so I trusted them to help my child,” she said.

But when the center claimed that her daughter was done with her treatment and was set to release her, they failed to give her the required prescription medicine so when the urges returned, she turned to illegal drugs to avoid withdrawal symptoms. She died from the drug use soon after.

To some, the clinic’s oversight might have been a mistake, but many, including Ms. Holley, are convinced that the rehab centers make “mistakes” like this on purpose.

Whenever a patient is brought into a rehabilitation center, that location takes in insurance money. It is the belief of many that some centers don’t offer the full care possible because if a patient keeps returning, then the insurance money will keep rolling in.

These indiscretions have not gone unnoticed either. There have been several FBI investigations into the matter. During one of them, the Bureau found that two centers, Real Life Recovery Delray treatment center and the Halfway There Florida home have collected almost $58 million by fraudulently billing insurance companies.

In another case, Kenneth Chatman, the owner of two popular rehab centers, is serving a 27-year prison sentence after being found guilty of healthcare fraud.

Said fraud at these clinics includes multiple occurrences of double-billing, faking urine samples and paying kickbacks in the form of free airline tickets, gift cards and trips to casinos.

In the case of Kenneth Chatman, he was found to be giving his patients drugs that would, in turn, trigger a positive test so they would relapse just before their insurance was set to expire.

These companies realize that there is money to be made, especially considering that drug addicts are covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act and that children under the age of 26 still remain under their parent’s insurance. With this much money available, it is no wonder why insurance companies have dollar signs in their eyes.

Federal organizations in the state are trying to get the problem under wraps by imposing higher penalties on deceptive behavior, and now it is a requirement for group homes to be accredited by a known regulatory organization comparable to the Florida Association of Recovery Residences.

Drug addiction is a serious problem around the world and the added abuse by the very places that are set to protect addicts just doubles the severity of the situation. This is an issue that requires swift and absolute action before the problem gets worse.