shopping carts

There is a little known clause in the majority of health insurance policies called a "subrogation clause."  There are many facets to it, but the most important for you to know is this:  If you are injured in some type of accident (car, etc.); and your health insurance pays your medical bills; and it turns out that someone else is responsible for your injury (ie. his/her car hit your car); then your health insurer has the right to seek recovery from the person that hit you, as well as you personally if you received money from a lawsuit.  The theory behind this is that the health insurer should not have to bear the cost of medical expenses for you if another person caused your injury.  That person, or his insurance company, should be responsible for your bills.

This is all well and good until that last portion of the subrogation clause kicks in.  Take the case of Debbie Shank, 52, who was severely injured when her vehicle collided with a semi-trailer truck.  She worked for Wal-Mart, and her Wal-Mart health insurance policy kicked in and started paying the medical bills.  Well, she sued the trucking company and won after years of court battles.  After her lawyer's fees and expenses were paid, she was left with only $417,500.00 to pay for future medical expenses.  She is wheelchair bound and brain damaged as a result of the accident so her future medical expenses, not to mention pain and suffering, will probably be significant.

Enter Wal-Mart.  3 years after Shank received her money, Wal-Mart sued her to recover the expenses it paid for her medical care.  Shank lost.  She appealed.  And lost again.  Legally, there is not much dispute that Wal-Mart has the right to subrogation.  But are you kidding me?  I can't believe Wal-Mart wants to seek subrogation from this woman and take the remaining money she has left from a horrendous and tragic event in her life.  Its not like Wal-Mart needs the money.

Come on Wal-Mart.  Just because you have the legal right to do something doesn't mean its the morally right thing to do.  Drop it and move on.  This money is not even a drop in the bucket of what you bring in on any given week.

Let Debbie Shank be.

Here's a link to an article on the subject...

http://www.nwaonline.net/articles/2007/11/28/business/112907shank.txt

Here's a link to a donation page for the Shanks...

http://walmartwatch.com/press/releases/wal_mart_watch_to_raise_money_for_former_wal_mart_employee_deborah_shank/

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