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The Doctors continue to examine the opioid epidemic in our United States of Addiction series, this time we investigate the fraudulent profiting off of those suffering from addiction, which is called body brokering. A body broker is a transporter who receives kickbacks from sober home operators for bringing in addicts who have good health insurance.
The Doctors are joined by parents Victoria and Jerry, whose son Skyler is dealing with drug addiction. They claim they were victims of body brokering after their son left his treatment facility in Florida and was then transferred to numerous treatment centers and sober homes every few weeks. Jerry says he was soon caught up in an ongoing cycle. Jerry tells The Doctors a pattern emerged where Skyler was checking into a new detox center on Sunday and then checking out later in the week on Friday and eventually ending up in a new location. They claim the goal is for patients to continue to relapse in order to keep them in a cycle of different rehab centers in order to keep profiting off of their insurance.
"[The patients] are being paid to relapse. There is no therapy here, there is no recovery," Jerry says.
Victoria and Jerry say the prime target is people age 18 to 25 who are still on their parent's insurance. Jerry says having an insurance card is a "gateway" for body brokering. Jerry says that Skyler also told them conditions at these fraudulent centers were terrible with allegations of medication withholding, not providing food and even alleged forced sex.
Skyler's parents say they have personally spent upwards of $75,000 of their money and their insurance has been billed somewhere between $500,000 to $600,000 for the multiple treatment facilities that Skyler was in.
Dr. Barry Reiman, the founder of Satori Waters, joins the show to explain more about this issue. He says in 2016 Florida passed a law making patient brokering a third-degree felony. Prior to this, he recounts how body brokers would often wait outside AA meetings and would target addicts giving them drugs and money to lure them into a new program.
Amanda, who was a victim of body brokering in Florida, survived being caught in this cycle. She tells The Doctors she saw rampant drug use, people overdosing and drug paraphernalia in these treatment centers. So how did she break the cycle?
"I knew that if I stayed there I was either going to die or it was just going to be same insanity over and over again," she shares of her breaking point. After losing a close friend to drug addiction, Amanda says she was inspired her to finally get sober and she's been clean since July of 2016.
In order to avoid being the victim of body brokering, Dr. Reiman shares red flags to watch out for, which include:
- Promises of free rent from a treatment center or sober home
- Free airfare to the center or sober house
- A center approving a patient without an assessment or knowing anything clinical
- An offer of drugs before taking someone to detox
- An offer of money to come to a come to treatment center
The Doctors encourage anyone who believes they or a loved one is a victim of body brokering to contact the police or the district attorney.
Victoria and Jerry's insurance company released a statement to The Doctors, reading, "Our first concern is the health and well-being of customers, and providing access to appropriate, quality care provided by contracted drug rehabilitation facilities. Unfortunately, there are those who will take advantage of vulnerable people, which is a toxic byproduct of our nation’s burgeoning drug epidemic. We have extensive processes in place to prevent and detect fraud, to help protect patients and their families, the community, and support legitimate rehab centers."