‘One Arm and One Leg’: She Fights Health Insurers For Pleasure – And Wins

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Law professor Jackie Fox says health insurance is like a medieval horror game.

But, the funny thing: She also says that insurance struggles are easy. For her. She’s been helping people win them for 30 years.

For Fox, it all started when an insurance provider wanted to cancel her mother’s life-saving surgery.

Fox, then a young associate at a large company, immediately called the company and said, “I out the door sue you for this. “

The company was successful. And because Fox left her office door open, her assistant heard the whole thing. Soon, Fox had a line of staff from the law firm who needed help with their insurance issues. She enjoyed helping them and found it easy. Her legal work involves creating complex financial instruments like mortgage-backed securities, and she views health insurance policies as just another contract.

She then returned to school and studied the history of law, particularly the “siege” movement that began in medieval England. In theory, English farmers had legal recourse for compensation if the lord of the manor wanted their home or farm. But in reality, they have no way to pursue it.

“And as I was researching it,” she said, “I thought, “This is like health insurance. This looks exactly like health insurance. ‘”

Fox’s conclusion: “A process without meaningful access to a process has no process at all.”

She opened a single legal action to help people get that access, to get what their insurance policy says they’re entitled to.

After a while, she became interested in policy – dealing with many problems of one person at once – and for the past 16 years she has been a professor of law at the University of South Carolina.

But her phone still rings. Last year, Fox spoke to someone through an appeal while she was at the grocery store. It also works.

“I know what contracts look like, without even thinking about it,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years, so it doesn’t sound like a brag. It’s like, duh. It’s like a plumber who knows what pipes look like.”

Fox has a lot to teach us. And the class is in session.

“An Arm and a Leg” is a collaboration between KHN and Public Road Productions.

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