Embracing Empathy: A Conversation on Kindness and Compassion

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Embracing Empathy: A Conversation on Kindness and Compassion

"It is always best to try to place yourself in the shoes of others and understand how they feel."

- Adria Gross


There are times when our world gets fraught with complexities, adversities, and bureaucratic mazes. However, there are those among us who choose to be messengers of hope and understanding, and one of them is Adria Goldman Gross. As a Medical Bill Advocate and President/CEO of MedWise Insurance Advocacy, Adria's journey from battling her own health challenges to becoming a champion for others is nothing short of inspiring.

"It is always best to try to place yourself in the shoes of others and understand how they feel." This profound statement by Adria encapsulates the essence of her advocacy work, which is rooted in empathy and compassion.

Adria's personal journey is marked by resilience and perseverance. Having survived encephalitis-induced brain damage and epilepsy, she intimately understands the struggles individuals face in navigating not only their health challenges but also the complex medical insurance system. At her lowest points, she grappled with 18 seizures a month, coupled with the daunting task of managing medical bills. However, her resilience shone through as she underwent brain surgery, eventually freeing herself from the grip of epilepsy.

Driven by her own experiences and a desire to alleviate the suffering of others, Adria embarked on a mission to demystify the labyrinthine world of medical insurance. Through MedWise Insurance Advocacy, she provides invaluable support to individuals facing a myriad of challenges, from overcharged medical bills to denied claims. Her work isn't just about resolving issues; it's about ensuring that people don't have to endure the financial devastation of medical bills leading to bankruptcy.

Teaming up with co-author Dr. Douglas Winslow Cooper, Adria penned the books "Solved! Curing Your Medical Insurance Problems" and "Multi Payer Medicine Nightmare Made in the USA." These books serve as guiding lights and seek to empower individuals with knowledge on tackling the intricacies of the medical insurance landscape and safeguarding their financial well-being.

Adria's advocacy hasn't gone unnoticed, with accolades pouring in from renowned figures like Ralph Nader and Wendell Potter. Featured in esteemed publications such as The New York Times and Consumer Reports, her impact reverberates far and wide.

Through her organization and her collaborative efforts, Adria embodies the transformative power of empathy and compassion. She doesn't just advocate for change; she lives it every day, touching the lives of countless individuals with her unwavering dedication and understanding.

Know more about her impact-driven life through this exclusive interview. 

SWAH: Your upcoming book, "Apparently DIFFERENT," discusses your personal journey with a major affliction and societal attitudes towards individuals with health challenges. What inspired you to share your story?

AG: After I published "Solved! Curing Your Medical Insurance Problems: Multi-Payer Medicine Nightmare Made in the USA," I came up with the idea for "Apparently Different." During the time I lived with epilepsy, due to encephalitis, I was rejected by many of my past friends since I was experiencing 18 seizures a month. After having a left temporal lobectomy, suddenly, my life took another 180-degree turn. I was no longer being rejected due to a health issue. I became very upset when I realized that in the past, I was avoided due to my health condition. Now is the time for change. Not just for me - there is no reason why anyone with a health issue should be avoided.

SWAH: Can you elaborate on the significance of empathy and compassion in your advocacy work within the medical insurance field?

AG: I lived with epilepsy for almost 25 years. After brain surgery, my next job was working for a health insurance company where I was taught how to deny claims within two weeks of employment. Even when my health insurance employer would only pay a fraction of my medical bills, I was in shock at how much good health costs us. I used to have a drink of wine every night since within a month of employment, I became a supervisor of claims and had to take every irate phone call due to denials.

This book is not just about me. It involves about 25 other people - Here are some examples:

  • A Zebra, Not a Horse Nor a Unicorn
  • The Jeopardy King
  • 911 Witness
  • Navigating My World despite Asperger's Syndrome

SWAH: Your career spans over three decades in the insurance and advocacy fields. How have you witnessed attitudes towards health challenges evolve over the years?

AG: As we age, we often face more health issues. Our bodies begin to lose the ability to protect us, and we face many health challenges. Recovery often takes longer, considered to be aging of our immune system.

Many doctors and hospitals no longer accept health insurance, even more so with Medicare Advantage Plans.

Many health insurance policies do not cover mental health, Lyme disease, and other conditions. We pay a lot of money towards medical care.

SWAH: Could you share a pivotal moment or experience that shaped your perspective on kindness and compassion?

AG: I would not be the person I am today if I had not experienced living with epilepsy for so long, especially taking 32 pills a day at one point and never having it controlled. I had many rough experiences living with grand mal seizures. When I was having two grand mal seizures one evening, if I was alone and someone was not with me to turn my head as I was vomiting, I would have suffocated and choked to death. One time I fell on the subway tracks in NYC, and people pulled me up to save my life. When having a grand mal, I tripped on a 6-inch fence and broke a rib.

People were always willing to help me, and that alone is more than kindness and compassion; it is being altruistic and having emotional intelligence. I try so hard to see myself having the same difficult experience as others.

SWAH: In your opinion, what are some practical ways individuals and communities can cultivate empathy towards those facing health challenges?

AG: It is always best to try to place yourself in the shoes of others and understand how they feel.

SWAH: Your advocacy work has garnered recognition and accolades, including being named "The Advocate" by Good Housekeeping in 2016. How do you leverage your platform to promote kindness and compassion?

AG: I believe the reason why I have received the awards is due to kindness and compassion. I have helped thousands of people avoid claiming bankruptcy.

SWAH: Through your organization, MedWise Insurance Advocacy, what initiatives or programs do you champion to foster a culture of empathy within the healthcare system?

AG: I lecture throughout the United States, educating people on health insurance and helping them avoid claiming bankruptcy. That was the reason for writing my first two books.

SWAH: How do you tackle challenging conversations or situations where empathy may be lacking, both professionally and personally?

AG: I always explain to the other party, especially insurance companies, medical providers, and congress people, how would you feel if you were experiencing what my client is going through?

SWAH: Your experiences highlight the importance of respecting individuals regardless of their health conditions. What advice would you give to someone struggling to find acceptance or understanding in their own journey?

AG: Always look at the positive aspects of what you are experiencing and do not give up your justices. Keep up the fight for what is right.

SWAH: Looking ahead, what are your hopes for the future in terms of promoting a more compassionate and inclusive society for all individuals, regardless of their differences?

AG: It is all about respect for others!




Connect with Adria Gross through the following links:


Apparently DIFFERENT


MedWise Insurance Advocacy



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