Misinformation about your health care coverage

The Star’s personnel office acknowledged Monday that there has been a major error in the information it has been giving laid-off employees about their post-employment health care coverage.

Since the June 21 layoffs, The Star has been telling workers that their health insurance would last only until June 30. From there, workers would need to find new coverage. Some did just that, searching out and purchasing new plans. Others who saw their benefits were ending abruptly, went out and spent hundreds of dollars from their flexible spending accounts, thinking that money was about to disappear.

Now, The Star’s personnel office says the company’s health care coverage didn’t end abruptly on June 30. Instead, it says the coverage will last as long as an employee’s severance payments. A worker with 12 weeks severance, for instance, would also have health coverage for 12 weeks.

Needless to say this is a striking change from the information provided at the time of the layoffs.

Olivia LaMelle, the Star’s human resources director, accepted responsibility for the mistake. She also asked that former workers contact her if they spent money on new health plans or incurred other problems based on the bad information. She said The Star would attempt to remedy the situation.

The Guild urges you to take her up on her offer, and to let us know how well she does. You might even want to copy us in on emails you send in to notify The Star about your experience.

LaMelle said she would be issuing a letter to laid-off workers within the next two days regarding the mistake. Aside from detailing the problem, the letter should also contain The Star’s latest calculation of the severance benefits you should expect to receive. This new calculation, she said, would take into account provisions from previous contracts up until 2002 that allowed for 2 weeks severance for each year of work.

The Guild understands that this whole episode has unnecessarily added stress and strain — and for some, financial expense — that wasn’t needed during an already stressful situation.

We hope the acknowledgement of this error and a pledge to remedy its damage will help ease one of the burdens of this bad situation. Please let us know how it goes.

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2 Comments

Filed under Layoffs/Buyouts

2 responses to “Misinformation about your health care coverage

  1. walter yost

    she didn’t realize laid-off employees were part of the Guild? just how long has she been in this line of work?

  2. Pingback: Guild: Indy Star admits giving wrong health insurance info to laid-off staffers | Astrid Bidanec

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