Imagine completing treatment for addiction recovery only to see that your insurance was unexpectedly billed tens of thousands of dollars — not for treatment but for urine testing. Treatment facilities have found a rogue way to coerce and fill their pockets through overcharging for incessant urinalysis.
It’s like literal liquid gold.
Urine testing is not a surprising factor of rehab. It has been a well-known and long-used way to make sure recovery clients are staying clean and sober. However, with the rise of the opioid crisis and, subsequently, people seeking recovery help, the charges for urine tests have also skyrocketed.
The result is a client being met with a notice that his insurance was billed for upwards of $10,000 for what he was told was a routine set of urine tests performed within his few weeks of treatment.
Florida Woman Charged $30,000 for $200 Tests
One woman from Tampa, Florida admits that the recovery center she attended billed her insurance for more than $30,000 in just 31 days solely for drug tests. According to Healthcare Bluebook, a fair price for a urine drug screening is $282. Unfortunately, she’s far from alone in this scam.
A comprehensive urine drug test can actually be purchased at most local drug stores for less than $30. And most professional drug screenings cost between $100 and $400, depending on the state. Like Tampa, a professional drug screening in Orange County, California should fairly cost about $280. So, how are treatment facilities coming up with these thousand-dollar charges?
They get to decide.
In the past, separate stand-alone labs were performing the urinalysis. However, in recent years, treatment facilities have been creating their own labs and marking up urine test costs to outlandish extremes.
Facility Owners Caught in the Act
Philip Ganong and his family are one case of culprits in these lucrative urine test schemes. The Ganong family essentially built a multi-million dollar business on urine simply by creating their own labs. They used these labs to test the urine coming from the chain of sober living homes they owned. In 2017, the family — along with two doctors — faced fraud charges for a $22 million urine test billing scheme.
Insurance providers are beginning to fight back. In one instance, Blue Cross / Blue Shield sued American Addiction Centers, one of the country’s biggest addiction recovery companies and the same company that placed the previously mentioned Florida woman . Blue Cross / Blue Shield alleged more than $6 million in over billing for urine drug tests.
In other instances, however, private insurance providers are more likely to reimburse a higher percentage of these outlandish bills. The ability to reimburse then drives insurance costs up for all.
No Help for the Addict
The problem runs a lot deeper than unethically billing insurance providers tens of thousands of dollars for urine tests. At the end of all of this is the addict, who’s seeking help for a disease that labs see as a flowing fountain of money.
These urine tests often cost more than the addiction treatment itself. While insurance providers are stuck either paying or fighting against the bill, the addict is left fighting for their life in a struggle that crooked labs are seeing as a lucrative business built on urine.