Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Psychology Officer
Thank you John Oliver and your staff for a significant public service on your show this week! Your commentary and excellent coverage of a major problem in substance use disorder and alcohol treatment will have an impact far beyond what the insurance and professional communities have been able to do.
MINES has patients who have gone out of network, received poor care, the payors have received outrageous bills, the patients are stuck with bills that can only result in medical bankruptcy and as you noted, people die in these disreputable facilities. A major component that you pointed out is patient brokering. When people Google substance abuse/use treatment, the top 20-30 are facilities, mostly in Florida and California, or are patient brokers. Reputable facilities in the person’s community do not even make the list. Then the facilities sometimes even pay the airfare to fly the patient to their facility and if the patient does not meet medical necessity for that level of care, the facility turns them out on the street to find their own way back to the state/community they live in.
You mentioned addictionologists as a resource for finding reputable care. In addition, Employee Assistance Programs as well as managed behavioral health services (insurance) are knowledgeable and informed about substance use and alcohol treatment. They know which facilities and programs are in network with the insurance and which ones do a good job.
Evidence-based treatment supports the use of a continuum of care from outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, residential and detox (medical and social detox). There are medications that also contribute to sobriety and health.
These are chronic illnesses/conditions that require the patients to cope with all their lives. Learning relapse prevention and adherence skills are essential.
If you decide to delve into this national problem further in a future episode, I would be happy to consult with you and your team.
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This is a link to a pdf of an article published by the Self Insurance Institute of America on predatory treatment facilities and managed behavioral healthcare strategies for helping the patients and the payors. https://www.minesandassociates.com/documents/Predatory_Facility_Article.pdf