2008 Excellence through Ethics Scholarship Winner's Essay
Read the "ethical dilemma" Laura responded to with her winning essay.
Excellence through Ethics Essay Contest
Winning essay by Laura Ly of Shelton, CT
The winner takes it all. Or so it seems. In his book, 'The Cheating Culture', author David Callahan hypothesizes that the rampant cheating on insurance, education, and more eventuate from the 'winner-take-all' environment that we live in and the desire to level the playing field. According to a research study by Progressive Insurance in 2001, nearly one in 10 Americans would commit insurance fraud if they knew they could get away with it. And thus, if so many others are cheating, wouldn't we be at a disadvantage not to do so as well?
For Janet, the decision is a difficult one. Torn between the desire to obey her boss and the choice to not change the application, Janet is conflicted. While changing Roger's health care application would likely get him coverage, Janet should not for several reasons involving ethics and possible consequences.
As of 2005, the Census Bureau reported that there are over 46.4 million people in the US that do not have insurance. If Janet were to change the application, she would be giving an unfair advantage to an individual simply because he knows Mr. Smith personally. Also, the penalty for insurance fraud is immense. By changing the application, she would be jeopardizing her future, and the futures and integrity of Mr. Smith and his brokerage. She would also be putting Roger in danger for a crime he wouldn't be aware of. According to a 2001 report by the Government Accounting Office, seniors and other taxpayers pay up to $1 billion a year in inflated drug prices due to potential fraud and loopholes in Medicare. If Janet were to follow Mr. Smith's instructions, she would be contributing to this amount.
Janet should be ready to give Mr. Smith alternatives for helping Roger, who despite his condition undoubtedly deserves assistance. Janet should enlist the power of the media. By publicizing Roger's case, she would be putting a face to the problem of citizens without healthcare. Oftentimes, insurance companies may find it easier to reject a claim when all they see is an application. Janet should also take action to get her school and community involved in various fundraisers to help Roger. In doing so, she may even get large businesses to donate to the cause and may even ask Mr. Smith to contribute. Since his brokerage subsidizes children's emergency treatment, he would seem the type of person who would do so. Hopefully, her actions will prompt Mr. Smith to instill new ethical policies within his brokerage by offering mandatory workshops on business ethics. Mr. Smith would surely see her determination and morality and would be able to write her an excellent college recommendation.
Janet should not compromise her morals, ethics, and future by changing the application. She would be unfairly giving assistance to Roger, when so many others like him are denied it. Instead, she should take action to publicize his story and champion fundraisers to help him, bringing light to the issues that uninsured Americans must face.
2008 Excellence through Ethics Essay Contest Scenario
At 51, Roger is the manager at the River Valley Co-op market, a small but enduring co-op market focusing on locally-grown organic produce. Roger started at the co-op as an hourly wage stock boy and is one of its most loyal and well-liked employees. With an annual salary of $38,000, Roger’s wife Mary supplements their income by running a daycare in their home, to help pay the rent. Finances are tight: their eldest child is graduating high school and wants to attend college, their car needs a new transmission and they are maxed out on their three credit cards. With a meager savings account of about $2,500, they cannot afford health insurance.
Although the co-op does not provide its employees with healthcare coverage, it does offer some low cost health screenings. Roger took advantage of a recent screening, which included a test for prostrate cancer. He never expected to find out that he may have early onset prostate cancer, but that was the result. Mary made him see a doctor, who estimated that treatment and follow-up could cost up to $50,000.
The doctor advised him to apply for a personal health insurance policy to see if he could get coverage. Roger happens to know Walter Smith, who owns Smith, Lofkins and Johnson, a local insurance brokerage that sells policies offered by large health insurers, because Mr. Smith buys his groceries at the co-op every week. Roger mentioned to Mr. Smith that he was going to submit an application for health care coverage and Mr. Smith said he would be on the look-out for it.
Janet has been working for Mr. Smith at the insurance brokerage during the summer between her junior and senior years in high school, doing clerical work to earn money for college. She really likes the job and thinks Mr. Smith is a good boss. He treats people well and has taught her a lot. He is courteous and thorough, friendly and concerned. She also likes how he gives back to the community and how the insurance company he represents donates a big portion of its profits to its charitable foundation, which subsidizes children’s emergency treatment at the county hospital.
One day towards the end of the summer, Mr. Smith was reviewing new insurance application forms, including the one Roger had sent in. He noted that Roger’s form revealed the possible prostate problems. Mr. Smith grimaced. If Roger had applied before the condition was discovered, he would be fully covered for treatment by the new insurance policy, at a relatively low rate. But now there would be a question about his qualification for coverage and the price he would be charged, since insurance policies usually restrict coverage for pre-existing conditions. Thus, the chances are good that they will reject Roger’s application for coverage at a reasonable cost. Mr. Smith has seen that happen many times.
Mr. Smith calls Janet over to his desk and explains that the date written on the application for insurance will be the date of coverage, after which claims can be made. Mr. Smith asks Janet to reJanet hesitates. If she does not change the application, the potential costs of Roger’s medical bills will ruin him and his family. He may decide to forego treatment altogether, which could be catastrophic. If Janet does change the application then Roger’s medical bills will paid by the insurance company, but the costs will be passed on to the company’s shareholders and to other policy holders through higher premiums, and the foundation will receive less money to help disadvantaged children. And, Mr. Smith might not If you were Janet, what would you do and why?