The US is in the midst of a well-documented opioid epidemic, but less well-known is how some people are making money off it through shady treatment centers that bilk insurance companies and do little to help their actual clients. In a feature in the Christian Science Monitor, Jennifer Flory describes working in a job she didn't like mainly because it came with good insurance. She needed it: Her daughter Alison was going through drug treatment, and the bills would've ruined her. Trouble was, the "treatment" was part of an insurance fraud scheme, something Alison eventually worked out herself, once telling her mother that the people running it were scammers in it only for the money. But her mother dismissed those allegations and asked Alison to trust them. "She is looking down and saying, 'I told you so,'" says her mom.
When Alison suffered a fatal overdose in 2016 at age 25 after bouncing between treatment centers for 15 months, it became clear that she'd been a pawn in a money-making scheme in which her addiction was fed instead of treated. In fact, "it is an open secret among addicts enrolled in South Florida treatment facilities that hundreds of suburban homes posing as drug-free recovery residences are little more than co-ed flop houses where the use of drugs is permitted and sometimes encouraged," writes Warren Richey. The houses pay people to recruit addicts, sometimes encouraging them to relapse so they can start a whole new course of expensive treatment all over again. The founder of a now-shuttered treatment center where Alison was enrolled has pleaded guilty to health-care fraud. Read about the problem in Florida and elsewhere at the Monitor. (Read more insurance fraud stories.)