I became a lawyer so there would be days like yesterday.
Over the last few years, a number of people have asked me for help in getting an insurance company named Senior Health Insurance of Pennsylvania – SHIP, for short – to pay claims that were filed by their parents, who’d bought SHIP policies years ago in case they needed home care when they joined the ranks of the elderly. But when the time came and these senior citizens needed the home care they were entitled to, SHIP refused to honor its contracts.
Yesterday, I joined attorneys for Consumer Watchdog and Bill Shernoff, the pre-eminent lawyer for consumers whose claims have been denied by insurance companies, in a lawsuit against SHIP on behalf of Dr. William Hall, an 87 year old, Purple Heart vet and former Chief of Medicine at a major hospital. Dr. Hall bought a SHIP long-term care insurance policy in 1994. Sixteen years later, after a fall and an illness, he needed the home care that the policy was supposed to cover. But SHIP made this kind and articulate gentleman, now confined to a wheelchair, jump through outrageous hoops attempting to get his benefits. For the sordid details, you can read the lawsuit and our news release here.
The spectacle of an insurance bureaucracy taking advantage of the elderly has struck a nerve. The case received a lot of media coverage, and I’ve received numerous calls today from people with similar stories.
As I stood before the cameras yesterday, I wondered if the SHIP employees who brazenly denied Dr. Hall’s claims had parents of their own. Have none of them ever questioned the orders they have been asked to carry out by their superiors?
The legal system is not perfect. But some of its loudest critics are funded by insurance companies whose interest is in collecting and investing premiums, rather than paying claims. Dr. Hall and his beleaguered family will now have a chance to present their case to a jury of their peers. The right to a day in court is among the most cherished in our democracy. I consider it a privilege to be part of this fight for justice.