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Injured Civilian Contractors Fight AIG and Other Insurers for Proper Care

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Thousands of American civilian contractors are in Iraq and Afghanistan providing critical support to U.S. troops. Day after day contractors put their lives at risk only to survive and return home to face another obstacle: fighting their insurance companies for basic medical care, artificial limbs, and psychological treatment. Private civilian contractors provide essential services including translation, transporting fuel, and guarding U.S. diplomats. Over 31,000 contractors have filed claims for injuries sustained (many of them psychological) during their work and more than 1,400 have died. Unlike war veterans, who have their own health system and care provided by the military, contractors are left in the dark. Instead, they are covered under tax-payer funded policies, primarily with the insurance giant AIG, who has routinely denied even serious claims

One of those serious claims involves a truck driver injured in October of 2004 who has been living an insurance nightmare since returning home after AIG has fought to provide him proper medical treatment. John Woodson, a 51-year old man from Oklahoma, lost an eye and a leg in Iraq when his fuel truck hit a roadside bomb. The bomb caused Mr. Woodson to blow through the roof of the truck and be thrown a hundred feet, ultimately breaking his pelvis, losing an eye and leg, and injuring his back.

According to Woodson, while he was in the hospital an AIG representative told him he would be fully covered. However, after returning home he discovered AIG was going to fight to provide him with a wheelchair, a new plastic leg or even glasses for the eye in which he has only 30 percent vision. Not only did AIG refuse to provide him with a wheelchair, but they refused to provide him with a water-proof leg to shower or a leg with a spring to help him walk easier. In comparison, military amputees are provided three different legs: one for walking, showering, and exercising. The new leg Woodson was requesting would have cost AIG about $8,000.

The government-funded insurance has made substantial profits for insurers, particularly AIG who covers 90% of overseas workers. In fact, the providers have generated over $1.5 billion in premiums paid by taxpayers and over $600 million in profits. While American tax payers continue to bail out AIG, angering many citizens, the company fails to use the funds for those who need it most. Instead of providing its insurers such as Woodson with proper medical care and treatment, AIG has used this money to give out millions in bonuses, take lavish spa getaways, and entertain on private jets. As Woodson put it, the company "bought the cheapest thing they could get away with."