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Consumer Alert: Out-of-State Addiction Treatment

The opioid crisis continues to be a major public health problem in Pennsylvania. This crisis is leading to further threats to the health and safety of Pennsylvanians, one of which is the recruiting of people fighting substance use disorders to predatory treatment facilities and recovery homes. These unscrupulous providers are looking to profit off the crisis, and are often located in Arizona, California, and Florida. In the past two years, thousands of Pennsylvanians have gone out-of-state to seek treatment. While there are reputable treatment facilities and recovery homes in other states, unscrupulous individuals have also scammed people needing treatment by offering enticements such as free plane tickets and payment of insurance premiums, to enroll in treatment at specific facilities or live in specific recovery homes.

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) licenses treatment facilities in Pennsylvania, and a list of licensed facilities can be found here. Gov. Wolf has signed a law allowing DDAP to license or certify recovery homes in the state as well, and the department is developing guidelines for this. DDAP works with Single County Authorities (SCAs) around Pennsylvania to support substance use disorder treatment and prevention efforts around the commonwealth. Many SCAs work with recovery homes in their county and can help refer people seeking this type of environment to recovery homes in their community. More information about SCAs can be also be found on the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs website.

The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Insurance Department are warning consumers to be wary of offers to entice someone to enter substance use disorder treatment out-of-state. Here are some enticements to beware of and questions to ask, if you or a loved one is approached to seek treatment for a substance use disorder out-of-state.

  •  Be wary of unsolicited referrals to any treatment facility. Recruiters often uses texts or social media to entice patients.
  •  Anyone seeking to arrange for addiction treatment out of state may be getting paid by the treatment center. Be especially careful of friends or acquaintances, who may themselves have battled addiction, who are now recruiting for out-of-state facilities.
  •  Anyone paid a referral fee for recommending a particular treatment center may not have your best interests in mind.
  •  Be wary of anyone offering to pay for your insurance coverage. They can stop paying your premiums at any time, which will result in the cancellation of your insurance.
  •  If you accept an offer by someone to pay for travel to an out-of-state clinic, make sure you have a plan and the means to pay for a trip back home.
  •  Be careful about giving your personal information – including your social security number or insurance policy number – to a recruiter, unless you can confirm that the person is employed by a legitimate medical provider or insurance company.
  •  If someone is offering to arrange travel or cover insurance costs for treatment, call the treatment facility or your insurance company to confirm that the person is an employee.
  •  If you see suspicious charges to your insurance company, such as bills for daily counseling or what appear to be exorbitant charges for routine services such as drug tests (Medicare pays around $80 per screening test, and from $117 to $254 per confirmation test) , report this to your insurer. The Insurance Department is aware of numerous reports of possible insurance fraud being investigated by law enforcement. To report suspected insurance fraud, contact the National Insurance Crime Bureau at 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422).