There’s a good chance you’ve heard about the Florida Shuffle if you or a loved one has had addiction issues.
Entering a treatment program is essential for many people who struggle with addiction. Using the expertise of medical professionals and support groups, you can improve your chances of a successful recovery leading to a better life. One of the biggest obstacles can be the idea of insurance, and for those wanting to get help, there’s the possibility of falling victim to fraud.
What is the Florida Shuffle?
Federal laws like the Affordable Care Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which were created to help those in need of healthcare, are being milked by people looking to line their pockets.
These unsavory individuals have used loopholes in a system designed to help those in need while cashing in on people suffering from addiction through insurance fraud.[i]
It usually begins with backhanded marketing tactics and it might go as far as offering a one-way plane ticket right to the rehabilitation facility. At the moment, US federal statistics estimate that about 75% of private-pay patients in Florida come from out of state.[ii]
After being admitted to the rehab facility, the patient will begin a treatment program covered by insurance.
Since 2008, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act have offered medical coverage for drug rehabilitation.[iii] All medical services, such as treatment programs, are done on a fee-for-service basis with no annual or lifetime limit with relapses are also thoroughly covered.[iv]
So far, everything seems pretty typical and on the up and up.
But, things then quickly change and the Shuffle begins.
Those coming out of state for treatment will need a place to live, also known as a sober home. The outpatient stage is when the individual leaves the rehab facility and enters a group home to continue recovery.
Typically, recovering individuals are required to pay rent as they are living in the group home. However, some sober homeowners will either dramatically lower or remove any payments for rent with the expectation of receiving money from the rehab facility, which charges thousands of dollars to the insurance company.[v]
The plot thickens.
Sobriety is not only discouraged but seen as unprofitable.
Once all insurance benefits are drained, the person’s phase in outpatient care is done, and they leave the sober home.[vi] If the person finds themselves relapsing, this will begin the process all over again. And with that, these crooked sobriety providers will find themselves profiting from the revolving door of individuals trying to reach sobriety.[vii]
Vox media website sat down and interviewed Brianna Jaynes and shared her story when she found herself in a Florida Shuffle scam.[viii] Jaynes explained that in 2015 she had been looking for help to end the vicious cycle of her dependence on painkillers and heroin.[ix]
This led her to search on Google a rehab facility that she called and talked to what she thought was someone from one of the best rehabilitation facilities in the country.[x]
At the time, Jaynes stated, she was at a low point, and the person on the other end told her exactly what she wanted to hear with the hope she was on her road to recovery.[xi]
It turns out, she was talking to a representative of a top-rated facility but rather a broker who was promised financial incentives for sending patients to seedy addiction centers.[xii]
During the next six months, Jaynes went to over a dozen different facilities around southern Florida, many of which she states were lacking in basic types of treatment.[xiv] In some facilities, she was offered drugs by other patients or staff, which is pretty standard.[xv]
Between December 2015 to May 2016, Jaynes states that her insurance provider paid these various rehab facilities somewhere in the ballpark of $100,000.
Jaynes noted that this hopping from program to program only made her dependence on drugs that much worse, hurting her mental health in the process.
How to Recover without Getting Scammed
When it comes to paying for things such as medical bills, insurance naturally makes everything easier. However, it is wise to beware of rehab facilities that focus on payment and not on the treatment programs provided for your sobriety.
Here is a list of points to watch out for when it comes to the Florida Shuffle:
- there is a strong emphasis on how much your insurance provider can payout[xvi]
- lookout for offers of free rent in sober homes, free plane rides[xvii] – “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
If you do find that you’ve somehow been caught up in the Florida Shuffle, call your insurance providers as soon as you can. Let them know the name and any other information about the specific facility that you may sense is untrustworthy.
Aspen can Help
Taking the first step into treatment for drugs or alcohol dependence can be scary if done alone. Let our team of medical professionals and recovery experts guide you as you begin to learn how to handle the stressors of a sober life.
Our team is ready to help you every step of your road to recovery and to help change your life for the better. Contact the Aspen Behavioral Group to learn how we can help.
Kurst, Justin, “Beating the Florida Shuffle”, Amethyst Recovery, August 15, 2017, Retrieved from https://www.amethystrecovery.org/beating-florida-shuffle/
Vox, “She wanted addiction treatment. She ended up in the relapse capital of America.”, March 2, 2020, Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/3/2/21156327/florida-shuffle-drug-rehab-addiction-treatment-bri-jaynes
Fix the Florida Shuffle, “What is the Florida Shuffle”, 2020, Retrieved from https://www.fixthefloridashuffle.com/florida-shuffle
Lisa Riordan Seville, Anna Schecter and Hannah Rappleye, “Florida’s Billion-Dollar Drug Treatment Industry Is Plagued by Overdoses, Fraud”, NBC News, June 25, 2017, Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/megyn-kelly/florida-s-billion-dollar-drug-treatment-industry-plagued-overdoses-fraud-n773376