Mike Renzulli

More About: Healthcare Industry

Ignorance and Misinformation Contributes to Rising Healthcare Costs

With all of the publicity surrouding the rising costs of healthcare, here is one example of how many media reporters and outlets contribute to the destruction of private sector healthcare.
 
Sometime ago, a now former Wal-Mart employee named Deborah Shank had her car hit by a truck resulting in Mrs. Shank acquiring brain damage.
 
Mrs. Shank's care was paid for by her company's health plan and then she is awarded $1,000,000 as a result of a lawsuit she brought against the trucking company. $417,000 of the settlement is set aside in a trust fund to cover the cost of Deborah Shank's long-term care.
 
As it turns out, Wal-Mart sued Mrs. Shank to recover $470,000 the company paid out to treat her. After an enormous public outcry in real and cyberspace, Wal-Mart decided to back off.
 
A campaign to condemn Wal-Mart came after MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann publicly blasted the company for their suit portraying the retail giant as a money-hungry, uncaring corporation attempting to steal money from a helpless, mentally retarded woman.
 
Because of the anti-capitalist mentality and activities of people, like Olbermann, singling Wal-Mart out for punishment, the company decided to withdraw their attempt to reimburse themselves.
 
Aside from the emotional outcry over this incident, the fact is that Wal-Mart had every right to attempt to recover the cost of paying for Mrs. Shank's healthcare since their health plan's trust funds depend on financial solvency in order for the company to pay for health insurance for Wal-Mart's employees.
 
If Wal-Mart, or any company, is not financially sound and does not earn profits they cannot offer certain benefits to attract good employees and remain competitive in the marketplace.
 
The reason for the rising costs of health care seen today is due to not only government interference in the health care market but also because of the ignorance that spawns publicity campaigns such as this which are grounded in the immoral idea that healthcare is a right and companies, like Wal-Mart, earn profits it and its shareholders can do without.
 
Fortunately, there is a silver-lining. As a result of Wal-Mart's lawsuit, the legal precedent of subrogation has been strengthened. Under this legal standard a company may sue to recover money paid out for an employee's care if the employee recieves a seperate monetary settlement from an incident that occurs during personal time which Deborah Shank's situation fits.
 
What happened with Mrs. Shank is very tragic and its looking like the money she recieved from the trucking company settlement will not be enough to adequately pay for the costs of her care down the line.
 
However, that is the fault of Deborah Shank's lawyer and, unfortunately, Wal-Mmart has been forced to pick up the tab for the Shank family's lawyer's mistake.
 
Wal-Mart deserves an apology from the people involved in the campaign to shame the company for their lawsuit.
 
Especially Keith Olbermann.

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