Deadline looms for LTV retirees

About 2,000 area retirees may lose the coverage they thought they had.
WARREN -- LTV Steel retirees who are older than 65 should select a health insurance provider by June 1, union officials say.
After that date, insurance companies can take current health conditions into account when deciding whether to grant coverage, said Mike Rubicz, president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1375 in Warren.
Federal law gives workers who lose their supplemental Medicare insurance 60 days to select a new provider without it being considered a lapse in coverage. The LTV retirees lost their health care coverage April 1.
Rubicz said the law applies to people who are 65 and older and on Medicare. Workers who are under 65 do not have the 60-day protection in getting new coverage, Rubicz said.
Some left out
Bill Luoma, president of the local's retiree group, said all of the retirees the union has been working with have found supplemental Medicare insurance, but he thinks there probably are some people who have not contacted the union.
The retirees group has been collecting information from insurance companies but is not recommending policies. About 2,000 area retirees did sign up for one policy that has caused them problems, Luoma said.
They signed with Monumental Insurance Co. for supplemental Medicare insurance at a rate and terms which were attractive, he said. People paid their premium, and then Monumental sold the policies to United American, which told the retirees that is was canceling the policies.
Luoma said the union appealed to the state insurance department, which is expected to rule any day on whether the policies can be canceled.
If they are, these retirees will be scrambling to find new coverage by June 1, he said.
Left without coverage
There are about 6,000 LTV retirees or widows in the Mahoning Valley. They were left without health insurance when LTV canceled the coverage during bankruptcy proceedings. International Steel Group bought most of LTV Steel but did not take over retirees' health care and pension benefits.

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