We’ve another one of those fun scams out of California:
Apte and Richman’s initial plan was to sell a direct-to-consumer test kit for less than $100 that would analyse stools for the gut microbiome, the community of micro-organisms that influences health in a bewildering number of ways.
A perfectly sensible, even respectable, idea. But it wasn’t bringing in the revenue, so, a swivel:
However, Apte, as chief scientific officer, and Richman, chief executive, quickly realised the test “would not generate the significant revenue [they] needed to attract large-scale venture capital investment”, the indictment said. Their solution? Create a more robust “clinical” test that, crucially, insurance companies would pay for. Such tests require official accreditation, which uBiome received in late 2014.
Armed with their new test, Richman and Apte changed their model. Rather than charging upfront for their “SmartGut” tests, uBiome began offering them for free. All users had to do was hand over health insurance information so that uBiome could bill the companies directly.
At which point they’re charging $2,600 a test which is much more fun. But to get the insurance company to pay the test has to be ordered by a doctor, they had a fleet of, umm, interestingly unconnected, doctors to provide such orders and the insurance companies rebelled. Collapse of idea.
Oh well. At which point we get the clincher:
Apte and Richman, who married in 2019, were indicted this month
What can’t married couples be forced to do? Testify against each other…..