Daily Kos: Wal-Mart Health Plan Sues Brain-Damaged Ex-Employee

Wal-Mart Health Plan Sues Brain-Damaged Ex-Employee
by JR Monsterfodder [Subscribe]
Tue Aug 16th, 2005 at 09:28:33 CDT

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Debbie Shank stocked shelves at a Wal-Mart store in Cape Girardeau, Mo., until five years ago, when her minivan was hit by a tractor-trailer. Her Wal-Mart health insurance paid the medical bills. Proceeds from a lawsuit helped finance her care in a nursing home.

Brain damage forces her to use a wheelchair and limits her upper body movement to one arm and two fingers. It stole her memory and her ability to talk to her husband and three sons.

* JR Monsterfodder's diary :: ::

"She'll ask about the boys, she'll ask about the cat," said her husband, Jim Shank. "Whenever I'm there, she thinks it must be a mealtime. We don't really hold a conversation."

Now the Shanks face a new obstacle. Her Wal-Mart health insurance plan wants the lawsuit money to repay its costs.

Last week, the health plan sued Debbie Shank in federal court in St. Louis, demanding the full $417,000 she got in the civil suit - plus at least $51,000 more from the share that already went to lawyers and costs.

A suit such as this is not uncommon, and is a way for self-financed health plans - employer and union-funded plans - to recoup medical expenses, say lawyers who handle health and insurance law.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the health plan has made no decision on whether to pursue this case; the suit puts a legal foot in the door before the deadline to file it passes. "This is kind of a standard procedure, and it just preserves our options," Marty Hires said.

And yes, we can blame Wal-Mart for doing this:

Wal-Mart's health plan explicitly states that it gets reimbursed first out of any settlement or judgment, up to 100 percent of the total amount of the medical expenses, according to the lawsuit filed by the Administrative Committee of the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Associates' Health and Welfare Plan. The plan also explicitly states that, "All attorney's fees and court costs are the responsibility of the participant, not the plan," the suit says.

Absolutely disgusting. And you wonder why I devote my time to this company?

Daily Kos: Wal-Mart Health Plan Sues Brain-Damaged Ex-Employee


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