Saturday, July 5, 2008
Health Benefits Denied
I know this is off topic for me, but this seems to be a growing problem. People invest their whole lives, put their trust into a company and then when they turn around and ask for what was promised to them. They get the back of a hand. It is just not right. I am not for universal health care. As I do not want the government running anything else, as they can barely tie their shoes and I also do not want to pay other peoples bills. But something has to be done about this. What was the point of these poor people paying for benefits?
Employers use federal law to deny benefits
Saturday July 5, 11:31 pm ET
By Mark Sherman, Associated Press Writer
Workers -- and some judges -- frustrated in legal fights over benefits with large employers
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Dying of cancer, Thomas Amschwand did everything he was told to make sure his wife would collect on the life insurance policy he had through his employer.
"He was obsessed with dotting every `i' and crossing every `t'," Melissa Amschwand-Bellinger recalled about her husband, who died in 2001 at age 30.
But Spherion Corp., the temporary staffing company where Amschwand worked, told Amschwand-Bellinger she would not receive any of the $426,000 in benefits she believed she was due. When she went to court, Spherion succeeded in getting her lawsuit thrown out. The Supreme Court on June 27 refused to review the case.
Amschwand-Bellinger received a refund of the few thousand dollars in insurance premiums she and her husband dutifully had paid. The total, she said, would not cover the costs of his funeral.
The story has played out often under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Designed to protect employee benefits, the law has been used by employers as a shield against suits.
Federal appeals courts, interpreting Supreme Court decisions dating to 1993, consistently have said companies that offer health, life and retirement benefits under ERISA cannot be sued for large amounts of money, or damages. Instead, they can be sued only for typically smaller sums such as Amschwand's insurance premiums.
Several federal judges have bemoaned the unfairness even as they have felt constrained to rule in favor of employers.
"The facts ... scream out for a remedy beyond the simple return of premiums," Judge Fortunato Benavides of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in the Amschwand case. "Regrettably, under existing law it is not available."
Link to article