An Open Letter to Doctors in General, But Particularly Penn Medicine Doctors

Dear Penn Medicine Doctor,

If Lincoln Financial Group was paying, would you say a woman with an inoperable, malignant brain stem tumor was “not disabled” and in “remission” despite her attending physician’s professional opinion to the contrary?

If the price was right, would you pretend you know best when even the patient’s own oncologist defers on the matter of her disability?

If the paycheck was fat enough, would you attest to a lie that stripped a disabled person of the long-term disability insurance benefits she paid for?

Would you?

At least one of your Penn Medicine colleagues would. Shoot, he’d probably even say you don’t know how sick or disabled your patient is if the gig paid enough. I mean, it’s so easy for him to do when he never has to look anyone—doctor or patient—in the eye. He just fills out a report et voila! Robs another cancer patient of her financial security, pads his own wallet.

I wonder if, when typing up his misleading report about me in May, Dr. Lee Hartner figured I’d be too timid or weak to hold him accountable for his profiteering side hustle.

(He should’ve Googled me first. I’ve been writing open letters, blogging about cancer, and just generally sticking up for myself for years.)

Anyway, because individual bad actors like Hartner make it possible for Lincoln Financial Group to rip off disabled consumers and besmirch the good name of do-no-harmers everywhere, I asked Dean J. Larry Jameson to comment on the issue. The way I see it, this is a matter of public interest. If this sort of behavior is the kind of thing Perelman School of Medicine looks for when hiring faculty, maybe patients and med students ought to know.

Unfortunately, Jameson won’t even acknowledge I exist. I guess he can’t be bothered to comment on how Hartner’s lies reflect on Penn, on the Perelman School of Medicine, and on the profession.

Crazy, right? I mean, if Dean Jameson thinks Hartner’s behavior is above-board and medically ethical, why wouldn’t he just say so? And if he thinks it’s unethical, why wouldn’t he release a statement quickly, before the Hartner Stink™ had a chance to get all over the rest of you?

Sorry for the tangent. Back to the original question, which is: Would you do it too?

Sincerely,

Emily Suess

P.S. Maybe you can help me out with another question I have: Why is it only insurance fraud if the patient lies?

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3 comments

  1. It’s kind of an oxymoron and sounds lilt it’s the insurer that committed fraud, not the patient.

    I am doing a webinar for Sharsheret in September on cancer and insurance. I have 5-8 minutes or 5 slides. I’d love to bring in your story if you’re interested let me know!

    1. That’d be great. I’ve been trying to tell people about this — that it’s a thing and it’s not just me it happened too. Anyway, if you’d like to share my story, feel free. Let me know how I can help.

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