Saturday, March 29, 2008

God Bless America!

Here's a little story that is bound to make everyone sick a little bit at a time.

A while back, a Wal-Mart employee named Debra Shank was driving along the road when her vehicle was struck in the driver's side door by an eighteen-wheeler. The accident left her brain damaged and almost totally incapacitated, requiring around-the-clock care. A $700,000 settlement was agreed on with the trucking company to cover Debra's medical expenses.

The money was put into a trust fund for Debra's perpetual care. Well, sort of. After legal fees there was only about $417,000 left. The lawyers basically snag forty percent of the settlement. God Bless America.

That made me a little ill, but wait... it gets worse.

Wal-Mart sued Debra in order to recover over $470,000 its health care plan paid for her initial care after the accident! That queasy feeling was growing. If Wal-Mart is involved, you know it can't get any better. And it doesn't. It seems that when Debra crossed all her t's and dotted her i's with Wal-Mart, she overlooked a small clause in her contract where Wal-Mart had the right to reimbursement from any settlement she received if she also received money from her health care plan. It's incredibly disturbing, but look around and you'll find similar clauses in company handbooks all across this great nation. God bless America.

Employers are beginning to go after settlement money as a direct result of escalating health care costs. In this case, the multi-billion dollar entity says it's looking after the interests of all it's employees by insuring the integrity of it's health care funds. God Bless America.

Currently, just over $200,000 remains in Debra's trust fund, set up by her ex-husband, Jim, and though they refuse to be interviewed, Wal-Mart released a statement saying that they are showing compassion by settling for what's left instead of the full $470,000. And you know what? They sued the Shanks and won! Not only that, but an appellate court upheld the decision! God Bless America.

Debra's ex-husband Jim is currently working two jobs to pay for her nursing care.He recently had to let her private nurse go because he simply can't afford to pay her. Jim's two jobs mean that he can't be there for Debra all that much either. Remember, Debra can't do anything for herself. She can't walk. She can't feed herself. She can't bathe or use the bathroom by herself. And Wal-Mart, the largest corporation on the planet, wants its money. God Bless America.

I mentioned that Jim Shanks is Debra's ex-husband. You might think he's something of a saint, fighting hard for a former spouse, but that's not really the case. Until recently the Shanks were still happily married, but thanks to the United States Government their divorce was inevitable. You see, Debra qualifies for more government aid if she's single. I'm not kidding. I recently ran across an old friend in the same situation. I hadn't seen Mister Ronnie since the Pre-Katrina days, but he and his wife were the picture of a happy couple. When I last saw him I asked how everything was and with that wry smile he usually reserves for jokes, he told me he was divorced. My jaw dropped and he told me that was the only way he could afford his medication. So the next time you hear politicians wailing about Family Values and the sin of divorce, remember that there are a lot of divorces caused by the laws made by those same politicians. God Bless America.

And just to make you even sicker, I'll go for the jugular and mention that one of the Shank's sons was killed in Iraq, fighting for the country that forced his parents to divorce so that his mother could receive the best care possible. Is this a great country, or what? God Bless America!

For more on this whole sordid affair, visit MSN here: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/KnowYourRights/EmployersGrabAccidentVictimsCash.aspx

2 comments:

"J.A.U.G." said...

not sure what to be more afraid of these days... politicians or corporate america....

LisaPal said...

I'm so horrified I don't know what to say. Somebody call Oprah or something.