Every so often, I receive an email from a distraught consumer telling me about a terrible situation involving a loved one who sought mental health or addiction treatment. Many of the stories include details that suggest patient brokering, fraud or worse.
The good news at least is that industry leaders are starting to lose their tolerance for such bad behavior, no longer allowing themselves to turn a blind eye to ongoing ethical issues. Now more than ever before, they seem ready to take more risk in trying to oust the bad operators.
As a resource for treatment center organizations, Behavioral Healthcare Executive recently sought to get a better feel for the questionable business practices in provider markets by conducting a survey. We found an even 11% of the 650 Ethics Survey respondents said they are aware of patient brokering happening in their local areas in the past year. However, experts are confident that it’s more prevalent than respondents even realize.
Other activities that are cause for alarm include the routine practice of overstating insurance coverage for services as a means of attracting potential patients, which 15.4% of respondents said is happening in their local area. Again, the number might be an understatement.
The call to action today is to increase the awareness of ethical issues and advocate for better solutions. For the future, one of the most pressing questions to ask will be how industry leaders might separate malice from ignorance. There’s a difference between the profiteering sober home that pays kickbacks for admissions and the small clinic that forgives a few too many copays.
I hope you’ll view the Ethics Survey results as a catalyst for conversations in your market and within your own organization. Send me an email and tell me what you’re seeing and how you plan to address the issue.