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News / Clark County News

Experts say it’s unlikely insurance will cover Storro’s medical bills

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter
Published: September 22, 2010, 12:00am

Now that she’s been charged with theft for allegedly tapping her charitable donations, will health insurance help pay Bethany Storro’s medical bills?

Although a clear answer was unavailable Tuesday, it seems unlikely.

Even if she has a health plan, insurers commonly have a list of exclusions of coverage, such as injuries obtained while committing illegal acts, suicide attempts, acts of war, riots and self-inflicted injuries, said Rich Roesler, spokesman for the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Those exclusions vary depending on the policy, but Roesler said such exclusions are fairly common throughout the industry.

Storro worked as a deli clerk at the Washougal Safeway. Safeway has a health insurance program for its union work force, but it appears as though she has not been with the company long enough to qualify. A couple of Storro’s co-workers said the 28-year-old only started at the grocery store a few months ago, after moving here from Idaho.

Safeway employees, with the exception of most managers, are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers union. A local union representative said employees are required to work 80 hours per month and must be with the company for six months before they are eligible for health insurance benefits.

If the employee meets those conditions, he or she would not be eligible to receive benefits until the eighth month of employment. The representative would not comment as to whether Storro had met those requirements.

Eligible Safeway union employees receive their insurance coverage from BlueCross, she said, although the representative did not identify the specific BlueCross provider.

While each BlueCross plan can vary, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon spokeswoman Joanna Fief said the Regence plan does not have exclusions in coverage for self-inflicted injuries. Because Safeway is a large corporation with headquarters in California, though, local employees may be covered under an out-of-state BlueCross plan, Fief said.

Safeway representatives have not responded to inquiries about Storro’s length of employment with the company or whether she is still an employee.

Columbian Health Reporter