BOGUS Benefits

Our latest Bogus Award winner is a real doozy, folks. What would you do if you got fired from a job, and then received a valid insurance card in the mail, with your name on it? But wait–what if you got that card, and you had ovarian cancer and multiple sclerosis and spinal problems? Would you, knowing your life depended on it, take the card, with shaking hands, to the hospital and sign up for a doctor, hoping against all hope that no one would cut you off before maybe you could get something done–before you died? And then, what if they kept making the mistake and never cut you off–the job that fired you kept paying your premiums, and the insurance company kept paying the hospital bills, and you got treatment, all the treatment you hoped for and you lay awake at night, thanking God for this miracle that added up to $230,000 of life-saving care? Well, that’s what happened, folks, to Jackie Youhanian. For eight whole years. It wasn’t just Jackie–there were several other people mistakenly on the benefits payroll. So what happened when the employer realized their benefits mistake? Did the insurance company and the employer have a good laugh at themselves when it was over? Did they ream someone out in payroll who forgot to take Jackie and the others off the rolls? Did they say, well, at least this woman was truly horribly ill, and if we had to make such a ridiculous error–at least we saved someone’s life. I mean, it’s not like she was running around committing health identity theft. It wasn’t even like she was running around getting plastic surgery. But nooo. This week’s BOGUS Award–for Bastard of Government & Unscrupulous Suck-up–goes to Macomb County prosecutor, Eric Smith, who decided, after sucking-up to conferring with the “affected” insurance company, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, to charge this poor woman, and only this woman, with four, count them, four counts of healthcare fraud. Mr. Smith is doing this despite the fact that everyone admits keeping Ms. Youhanian on the benefits payroll was probably a simple clerical error, and no one disputes how ill she is. Furthermore, the insurance company got paid its premiums by the employer the whole time. Each charge against this woman, if convicted, means four years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Without any trace of irony, the prosecutor has admitted that getting Ms. Youhanian to trial, sick as she is, might be a problem, and that, if convicted, the state will have to pay for her healthcare in prison.

Bogus, indeed.

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