Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wal-Mart Folds Under Pressure


Last week, I posted about the Shank family. You can read the entire post here which also has a link to the original CNN story. Basically though it concerns a worker at Wal-Mart, Deborah Shank (pictured with her husband, Jim) who collected, after legal fees and other expenses, $417,000 in a settlement with a trucking company after an accident left her permanently brain damaged and in a wheelchair. Then Wal-Mart sued for the $470,000 it had spent on her medical care. Oh, and by the way, her son was killed in Iraq. Way to piss off both sides of the aisle Wal-Mart.

Ms. Shank currently has about $270,000 to get her through the rest of her life. After the $270,000 runs out, then you and me and everyone else in the US will be paying for her care. See, that is the crazy thing here. A company like Wal-Mart will say that by not collecting the money it paid out, then insurance premiums will rise and that everyone will pay more. The way I look at it, Wal-Mart has already been paid by the premiums from their workers for the money they paid out. They then get a windfall from the work of the attorneys for the injured. Then, there is still nothing stopping them from raising premiums. Meanwhile, the workers at Wal-Mart don't share in the windfall, have their premiums raised because Wal-Mart can point to all this unnecessary litigation, and then to really kick you in the ass, your taxes go up because you have to help pay for the injured person.

Subrogation was never really a big deal until about 2006 when the Supreme Court made it much easier for health plans to go after the money. Most health plans with a conscience don't do it. Obviously Wal-Mart doesn't. The only reason they caved is because of the bad publicity and because members of Congress have now threatened legislation which would put a halt to the practice entirely.

In caving to pressure, Wal-Mart had this to say, "Ms. Shank's extraordinary situation had made the company re-examine its stance. Occasionally others help us step back and look at a situation in a different way. This is one of those times."

Wal-Mart then went out and sued some more people for the exact same thing. Oh, but they lowered prices in the stores, ensuring that Chinese children will be working late tonight.

Thanks to everyone who sent me articles on the decision of Wal-Mart. I really appreciate it.

16 comments:

Chatty said...

Well then. There you go.

englished said...

Way to go everybody who emailed complaints and launched petitions! Just because something's legal doesnt make it right!

RagDoll said...

Remember now, when you go to the polls, that Hillary Clinton (who makes SUCH big noise about health care for all Americans ha ha)....once sat on the board of directors at Wal-Mart.

IndigoBlue said...

If I read this right, Enty is saying that Congress is threatening legislation that will put an end to subrogation on behalf of private insurance companies. I find that a little ironic since Medicare/Medicaid have automatic liens in such cases. Medicare and Medicaid are funded by the government and they don't even have to file a lien against any settlement proceeds, you have to hunt THEM down and tell them YOU got a settlement and then they tell you how much of your settlement has to be paid to the government. And if you don't hunt them down and beg to give them some or all of your money, they will sue you. God Bless America.

IndigoBlue said...

And, by the way, the "God Bless America" thing was tongue in cheek.

adrian said...

My sster-n-law's brother was hit head on by a driver on drugs, has a leg pinned together, & will never walk without a cane. He was bedridden for quite some time. He received a letter from his insurance company stating if there is any settlement, they get their money back first. I think it is the insurance companies policies, not the actual corporations.

Pinky said...

Hey Adrian - how you doin'?? Feeling okay? Spirits high I hope?

adrian said...

Hi Pinky--thanks for asking. Tomorrow I am going back for more surgery & removal of lymph nodes. I will tell you how I feel once I know if my lymph nodes are clear. My MRI was good, my surrounding tissue was good, now I have to wait for this. I will let you know after Friday morning. Keep your fingers crossed!

lyz said...

Adrian, hope all goes well tomorrow. I don't know anything about your situation, but I will be tossing up prayers for your surgery.

So, did Walmart simply not take the $$ back or what? What did they actually do to rectify the situation?

adrian said...

Thank you Lyz.

Brenda22 said...

Yay. I'm excited. I just got the following email from Wal-Mart:

Thank you for contacting Wal-Mart's Global Ethics Office about the Deborah Shank case. We have attached for your reference Wal-Mart's response to this matter which was issued on April 1, 2008.

Wal-Mart Statement Regarding Shank Case

April 1, 2008

Occasionally others help us step back and look at a situation in a different way. This is one of those times. We have all been moved by Ms. Shank's extraordinary situation. Our current plan doesn't give us much flexibility, so we began reviewing the guidelines for the trust that pays medical costs for our associates and their family members.

We wanted to understand the ongoing impact of any potential changes to the trust, and ensure that any action we take is in the best interests of our associates and their family members who participate in and contribute to our plan. We have decided to modify our plan to allow us more discretion for individual cases, and are in the final stages of working out the details.

Wal-Mart will not seek any reimbursement for the money already spent on Ms. Shank's care, and we will work with the family to ensure the remaining amounts in the trust can be used for her ongoing care.

We are sorry for any additional stress this has put on the Shank family.

Kat said...

Yeah, I still won't shop there. I hate everything they stand for. They're unoriginal, sell Chinese product which is not only sub-standard by way of durability, but outright dangerous, and they treat their employees badly. If not for all the news coverage on this specific case, nothing would have changed. I don't like what they stand for and have zero respect for them as a corporation. I'll pay more for quality and integrity, thanks.

Brenda22 said...

But I'm still not ever setting foot in that store again.

Rebecca said...

I still hate Wal-Mart. Now, how about all these damn companies outsourcing? Dell, Verizon (NYC metro area phone company), etc. I wish I knew how to boycott these types of companies without sacrificing too much.

plot said...

One option for outsourcing the costumer service - demand someone who speaks English with a native accent. they will transfer your call to Toronto, or some other non-Indian city, which costs them a shitload for the phone bill.

It's what I've been doing for 3 years now, with the cable company (who switched back to local costumer service), my pet supplies, the bank, technology, everything. We can at least save a few jobs with the legitimate excuse that we can't understand the Indians.

judyv12306 said...

White lettering on a black background is impossible to read.