ONTD Political

Yovany Gonzalez's Wells Fargo Lawsuit Alleges Bank Fired Him, Cut Dying Daughter's Health Insurance

3:03 am - 08/09/2012
Yovany Gonzalez's Wells Fargo Lawsuit Alleges Bank Fired Him, Cut Dying Daughter's Health Insurance

Wells Fargo allegedly fired an employee because his dying daughter needed expensive cancer treatment, according to a lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County Court on Thursday.

Wells Fargo fired mortgage consultant Yovany Gonzalez three days before his daughter Mackenzie was scheduled to get cancer surgery in August of 2010, the lawsuit states. According to the suit, the hospital canceled the surgery because Mackenzie no longer was covered by health insurance. She died of cancer in March of 2011.

Before Gonzalez was fired, Wells Fargo and United Health Care, the health insurer, asked Gonzalez's wife "numerous questions" about Mackenzie's treatment and made "several references ... to the costs of her treatment," the lawsuit states. Around that time, Gonzalez's supervisor told Gonzalez that Wells Fargo was looking for reasons to get rid of him, according to the lawsuit.

"This was a loss of an innocent child's life," Jack Scarola, Gonzalez's lawyer, told The Huffington Post. "There were [some] Wells Fargo employees who not only lacked compassion but seemed to have been motivated by entirely improper concerns about finances."

Wells Fargo, for its part, is defending itself against the allegations. "While we're very sympathetic to Mr. Gonzalez for his personal loss, his termination was unrelated to the allegations included in the lawsuit," said Bridget Braxton, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo, in a statement. "We intend to vigorously defend the matter in court. We support and value our team members and our employment practices are in alignment with that focus."

Wells Fargo claimed to fire Gonzalez because he allegedly had falsified his time records, according to the lawsuit. But his supervisor had input the time records and said it was fine that he could not always remember the exact hours he worked, the lawsuit says. After Mackenzie was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2008, Gonzalez started working in other locations because of her cancer treatment.

The lawsuit details that Wells Fargo also did not give Gonzalez information about how to continue his family's life insurance coverage -- information he was promised after he was fired, leading to the expiration of his plan. The coverage included life insurance on the lives of his children, according to the lawsuit. As a result, Gonzalez's life insurance policy expired before Mackenzie died, and Gonzalez was not able to receive life insurance compensation for Mackenzie's death.

While you are entitled to extend your employer health insurance coverage under the COBRA law if you lose your job, as long as you pay the full premium, it took more than 90 days for Wells Fargo to send Gonzalez information about how to extend his health insurance policy under COBRA, said paralegal Walter Stein, who is helping represent Gonzalez.

A charity eventually paid for Gonzalez's premium on his behalf so that he could get a year of health insurance coverage under COBRA, Stein said.

Gonzalez started working in 2007 for Wachovia, which Wells Fargo bought in 2008 during the financial crisis. He now is working at Chase Bank for less pay than he could earn with securities registration, according to the lawsuit. The suit says Chase is not letting Gonzalez sell securities because of the reasons that Wells Fargo gave for firing him.

Source

OP: This is so close to my heart. Luckily, my sister worked for a company that deals with cancer on a regular basis. I know the article doesn't mention it but the reason Mr. Gonzalez was fired was because of "time care irregularities". I want to throw a picture of this poor child every time some politician says "well, hospitals HAVE to teach the dying so that's a good enough safety net." BS! They cancelled my own life saving surgery and they cancelled this poor kids surgery.

Sorry if this has been posted before mods...
caerfrli 9th-Aug-2012 03:20 pm (UTC)
I believe it. I suspect my company fired people because they'd raise the health insurance costs. Proving it however...
furrygreen 9th-Aug-2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know. Especially those of us who live in "right to work" states. (BTW, I find the term "right to work" to be rather disgusting.)
grey853 9th-Aug-2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
This is why we need major health care reform. This is disgusting.
shadwing 9th-Aug-2012 03:22 pm (UTC)
While you are entitled to extend your employer health insurance coverage under the COBRA law if you lose your job, as long as you pay the full premium, it took more than 90 days for Wells Fargo to send Gonzalez information about how to extend his health insurance policy under COBRA, said paralegal Walter Stein, who is helping represent Gonzalez.

*sputtering*

90 DAYS?!

When I was working in payroll we were told we had to mail out that COBRA information within 30 DAYS of the termination date and the Employee has 60 days from termination to file for COBRA, after that the employee was SOL.

I don't know this for a fact...but I think the employer was still worried that if he filed and got COBRA the costs of the kids surgery would still be counted against them when the current health insurance contract expired and they needed to renew, the kids expences could justify charging the employer a higher rate in overall premiums.
nitasee 9th-Aug-2012 04:10 pm (UTC)
It sounds suspect to me that they took so long - like they wanted him to be without coverage. Did they have some idiotic idea that they would still be responsible? If he's paying the damn premium, not them, why the delay? Seriously, this sounds intentional.
kazekageshad 9th-Aug-2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
Ugh this pisses me off so much. His little girl is dead because of these assholes! Seriously? How can you tell him the extra 100 bucks* you saved was worth the life of his little girl.

*don't know how expensive it is just giving an example.
poetic_pixie_13 9th-Aug-2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
Wells Fargo fired mortgage consultant Yovany Gonzalez three days before his daughter Mackenzie was scheduled to get cancer surgery in August of 2010, the lawsuit states. According to the suit, the hospital canceled the surgery because Mackenzie no longer was covered by health insurance. She died of cancer in March of 2011.



Need a Fucking Drink

Fuck Wells Fargo and fuck that hospital, tbqh.

And, OP, I hope that you were/will be able to get the surgery that you need. <3
furrygreen 9th-Aug-2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :) I did but I can't tell you how it feels to be kicked out of an ER because I had no insurance. >.
jenny_jenkins 9th-Aug-2012 04:35 pm (UTC)
I'm not American so I need a clarification.

I've always been under the impression from Americans explaining your health care system to me that everyone "eventually" gets treatment anyway.

So what would have happened when her coverage was cancelled? Shouldn't they just have done the surgery anyway? How does this work - or are the people claiming the system works out okay full of shit?

I guess that's a long way of asking: what do you if you have no insurance? Where do you go, for example? Can you go to an emergency room or something? Does it matter what state you're in?
bestdaywelived 9th-Aug-2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
That's not entirely how it works - basically, what happens is that uninsured people go to the emergency room, where everyone, by law, must be stabilized. This doesn't mean that life-saving care must be provided, or life-prolonging care must be provided.

archanglrobriel 9th-Aug-2012 04:48 pm (UTC)
Nope. I once labored under the delusion that everyone would "eventually" get care anyway, regardless of their ability to pay. That either never was true (and was just part of the cultural mythology fed to us to keep us from demanding health care reform) or is no longer at all true. I have heard many stories in recent months about people being refused treatment for cancer or life saving surgeries because they were too poor and/or uninsured. And they died. Or their sick children died.
I believe former Representative Alan Grayson said it best - What's the American health care plan? Don't get sick.
If you do get sick, die quickly.

furrygreen 9th-Aug-2012 04:58 pm (UTC)
I've always been under the impression from Americans explaining your health care system to me that everyone "eventually" gets treatment anyway.

This is the justification that the gov'n has given to the people. It's a lie. I know from first hand experience.

How does this work - or are the people claiming the system works out okay full of shit?

They're full of shit. However, since the uninsured only seek medical attention when gravely ill, most people just die and are not around to say otherwise about the system.

what do you if you have no insurance?

You die. Generally before you lose everything material you own. Surgery is incredibly expensive here. To put it simply, it's cheaper to get a visa, buy round trip airline tickets to India, room and lodge for the duration of treatment, and get the medical attention you need.

Can you go to an emergency room or something?

There is a law that says ERs have to treat people who come to them. This rule generally only applies to people who are suffering with acute injuries (stabbing, etc.) where it is quick obvious that kicking the patent out would kill them. All the rest, however, get turned away (or are seen by a doctor who tells them to come back when they have the money to afford whatever they need.)

Now I hear that debt collectors screen the patients first in some hospitals and are turning people away. You have to understand that hospitals here charge uninsured people 3 times as much as the insurance agencies. One insta-care doctor explained that it was because insurance agencies only pay a third of the actual bill. My own same day surgery was almost 20k.

Edited at 2012-08-09 05:00 pm (UTC)
mutive 9th-Aug-2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
The closest that we come to an "everyone" gets treatment situation is in the ER. Where they'll treat emergencies (i.e. cuts, infectious diseases, etc.) but do little else. (So typically no surgeries, other than minor procedures.)

Most hospitals won't do anything major (i.e. surgery) if insurance doesn't exist, as it's crazy expensive. And the hospital knows they'll never be reimbursed. So unless the family could write a check to cover the surgery, most would say "no".

If you have no insurance, there are some different methods you can use. If you have money, you can write a check. It's still tough, though, as a lot of places require insurance even if you have money. (Which is kind of crazy, because getting payment up front is a lot better than what insurance would do for them.) You can go to an ER, as they're required to treat you - but treatment is pretty minimal. (And you're billed for it anyway, usually at incredibly high rates.)

When I lacked insurance, I tried to treat everything on my own. I went to Planned Parenthood (a cheap clinic) for preventative care. (They specialize in reproductive health, but do other stuff.) And for minor emergencies, I'd go to "Doc in the Box" type things to get antibiotics. It sucks, though. (And it doesn't help that getting insurance outside of work is really, really tough. Not just expensive, but really hard to obtain.)

The system is pretty screwed up. It works out great if you have a job with insurance, but otherwise...
alryssa 9th-Aug-2012 04:43 pm (UTC)
This is so completely gross, I don't even know where to begin.
crossfire 9th-Aug-2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
"...his termination was unrelated to the allegations included in the lawsuit," said Bridget Braxton, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo

I'm sure you have a very carefully constructed paper trail to demonstrate exactly that.
furrygreen 9th-Aug-2012 05:04 pm (UTC)
Not that the gov'n would really care. I mean, if it's okay for these banks to illegally repossess vet's houses while they're on tour oversea, I can't imagine that they'd care about a dead child and a paper trail.
sarah531 9th-Aug-2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
Okay, that...that literally made me cry. Is that really what it's like, in America? Because I'm pretty sure a lot of my family would be dead, if we lived there.
mirhanda 9th-Aug-2012 08:51 pm (UTC)
THIS IS WHY WE NEED SINGLE PAYER, NATIONAL HEALTH CARE, PEOPLE!
ms_maree 9th-Aug-2012 11:59 pm (UTC)
How can they let a child die? Like, I understand if this was a super-rare experimental and only one surgeon in the world could do it. But...otherwise..I don't understand. I don't want to understand.
kyra_neko_rei 10th-Aug-2012 04:22 pm (UTC)
Money. That's why. They care more for their profits, both this singular however-many-hundred-thousand-dollar case and every single other one like it that they'll want the ability to weasel out of.
4o5pastmidnight 10th-Aug-2012 03:34 am (UTC)
Thank you for just solidifying my desire to make my college application essay on something important to me about healthcare reform.
lonely_hour 10th-Aug-2012 09:22 am (UTC)
someone needs strangling right now. I feel so sorry for this family...
and that hegemonic idea of "universal healthcare is an attack on my freedoms!!!!"
...shove that freedom down capitalism okay.
massielita 10th-Aug-2012 07:50 pm (UTC)
my gawd this is horrifying
lizzy_someone 14th-Aug-2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
the health insurer, asked Gonzalez's wife "numerous questions" about Mackenzie's treatment and made "several references ... to the costs of her treatment"

There is a special place in hell for insurers who whine about the monetary cost of treating a cancer-stricken child to the faces of that child's parents.
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