Since Time Immemorial (or: At Least for Decades)

This New York Times article is from 1991, a lifetime ago in the age of the internet. And yet, it’s a worthy read on the subject of involuntary commitment, insurance fraud and what it costs all of us, patient or otherwise.

With the headline “Paying for Fraud/A special report.; Mental Hospital Chains Accused of Much Cheating on Insurance,” it’s safe to assume that the story includes shocking and saddening examples of injustice. From the article:

At Psychiatric Institutes of America, investigators say they have identified the following types of practices:

*Inflated bills for medications and services -- $1,100 a person for three hours of group therapy, or $4.15 for a single Advil tablet that costs 11 cents in drugstores.

*Billing for services never rendered, as in the case of a woman who says she was charged for group therapy at $80 an hour when she was at lunch, at dinner, or was being inspected for lice.

*Diagnoses and treatments altered to match insurance coverage.

*Admitting children to psychiatric hospitals even though experts say they do not need hospitalization.

Psychiatric Institutes acknowledges isolated instances of abuse but says the practices are not widespread.

Did you notice that last bullet point? “Admitting children to psychiatric hospitals even though experts say they do not need hospitalization.” Children. Admitted even though they didn’t need it.

There’s a lot that’s discouraging about this story, not the least of which that it’s over thirty years old and we still see this same kind of fraud today. But here’s something of a more positive note: thanks to Surviving Timberlawn, we’re going to change the conversation. We’re going to tell your story, and with your help, we’re going to hold these organizations to account.

Pat PriceComment