Friday, March 28, 2008

"Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic!"

My friend IM'ed me this story... it's depressing as hell, but in many ways is a telling tale for life in America in the early 21st century for many. Via
Debbie Shank breaks down in tears every time she's told that her 18-year-old son, Jeremy, was killed in Iraq.

The 52-year-old mother of three attended her son's funeral, but she continues to ask how he's doing. When her family reminds her that he's dead, she weeps as if hearing the news for the first time.

Shank suffered severe brain damage after a traffic accident nearly eight years ago that robbed her of much of her short-term memory and left her in a wheelchair and living in a nursing home.

It was the beginning of a series of battles -- both personal and legal -- that loomed for Shank and her family. One of their biggest was with Wal-Mart's health plan.

Eight years ago, Shank was stocking shelves for the retail giant and signed up for Wal-Mart's health and benefits plan.

Two years after the accident, Shank and her husband, Jim, were awarded about $1 million in a lawsuit against the trucking company involved in the crash. After legal fees were paid, $417,000 was placed in a trust to pay for Debbie Shank's long-term care.

Wal-Mart had paid out about $470,000 for Shank's medical expenses and later sued for the same amount. However, the court ruled it can only recoup what is left in the family's trust.

The Shanks didn't notice in the fine print of Wal-Mart's health plan policy that the company has the right to recoup medical expenses if an employee collects damages in a lawsuit....

Her husband tries to look on the bright side: "Luckily, she's oblivious to everything," he said. "We don't tell her what's going on because it will just upset her." And Walmart spokesman John Simley says that this story is "sad," but insists that "Wal-Mart's plan is bound by very specific rules" and that "this is done out of fairness to all associates who contribute to, and benefit from, the plan." Yea, it sounds like a real fantastic plan.

You can read the full story at the link above. And try to refrain from kicking things.


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