Adria Goldman Gross '74

By David Nathan

Denied a teaching career due to a debilitating disease, Adria Goldman Gross ’74 relies on the personal attributes that she would have brought to the classroom — knowledge, patience, determination, advocacy, and empathy — to help consumers caught up in the bureaucratic morass
of outlandish medical bills.

The CEO and founder of MedWise Insurance Advocacy helps her clients to reduce their medical bills, identify fraud and overcharges, and negotiate fair settlements with insurance companies. Since founding her business 14 years ago, she has published a book, Solved! Curing Your Medical Insurance Problems, and is a recognized expert quoted in media outlets around the country.

“I tell people to continue fighting,” Gross says. “The insurance companies and hospitals want people to say, ‘I can’t deal with this anymore.’ I understand how they might feel that way, but I am tenacious and don’t let my clients give up.”

Growing up in Port Jervis, New York, Gross imagined herself pursuing a career as a teacher. At the age of 11, she contracted a serious illness, encephalitis, and went into a coma for 10 hours. She was diagnosed with epilepsy and prescribed medication to reduce the incidence of seizures.

Gross arrived at Lasell in the fall of 1972 and found a welcoming community that embraced her and refused to define her based on her epilepsy. She majored in early childhood education, was active in student government, and developed close relationships with many students and
professors. “Lasell truly helped me to believe in myself while living with uncontrollable epilepsy,” she recalls.

After graduating from Lasell, Gross enrolled at Lesley University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in education. Just a few months before graduation, she had a seizure in a classroom while serving as a student-teacher. She was informed that because of her medical condition, she would not be able to obtain the certification required to teach in Massachusetts, New York, or New Jersey.

While working at insurance giant American International Group in the 1990s, Gross had an epiphany: Rather than working to deny claims, she could better serve society by utilizing the insider industry knowledge she had obtained to advocate on behalf of individuals facing crippling medical bills.

“I felt compelled to use what I had learned to help people so I opened MedWise. Our motto is: We give a hoot about you,” she says. “I know what it’s like to be sick, and I know how to twist the arms of the insurance companies to get them to pay.”