Brothers and sisters:
In March of 2005, after much prodding from their children, my 75-year old parents realized to their amazement they were not going to live forever and made up their wills and financial and medical powers of attorney. Less than two weeks after signing the papers, my father had a heart attack, went to the hospital and subsequently died. While this was happening, my mother was doing physical therapy at an east side facility. The mental and emotional strain of April 2005 was incredible, but somehow we made it through.
My mother retired in 1994 from Rini’s Supermarket and was using Medicare for her primary insurance provider and UFCW Local 880 as a secondary. My father retired from LTV as a salaried employee in 1993 and had not been a picture of health with multiple cardiac issues since the early ‘80’s. Any health benefits he had on retirement dissolved with the company and his pension was halved when Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. assumed the liability for the federal government.
As the executor of my father’s estate and financial power of attorney for my widowed mother, it fell on me to write the checks and clear up the accounts. The state of their finances was not that bad. My mother had consolidated several accounts together and was paying off smaller debt on a regular basis. When the bills for my father’s stay and the ongoing care my mother received came in, I was flabbergasted at the exorbitant rates being charged by the facilities and providers.
In several conversations my mother expressed that her one great wish was to go home. As the summer drew on and the bills kept coming in, I learned about the lifetime maximum for non-hospital stays and quickly calculated that my parents were dangerously close to reaching that number. My mother’s hope to return home looked more like a pipedream with every invoice and EOB that crossed my desk.
Finally, in late fall of 2005, I received an explanation of benefits from 880. I opened the envelope and held my breath as I unfolded the paper. The amount the hospital invoiced for my father’s final hospital stay was in the mid five figures. When I scanned down the page to the last line it read “the above amount is paid in full.” I am not embarrassed to say that my relief was monumental and I shed tears of joy. Mom could come home after all.
With all the rancor, discord and polarization over the Affordable Care Act, all I know is that without Medicare and Local 880 everything my parents worked their entire lives for would have disappeared overnight.
Not bad for two programs everyone derided as socialism at their inception.
Where are they working?
Matt Weingart, Dave and John Brunner, Mark Byram, Ron Rittwage and Chris DeJesus at the Med Mart for Schindler,
Neil Beechuk and Nick Meyer installing a freight car at BW for Thyssen,
Jason Fredrick. Anthony Metcalf, Bill Dudas and Todd Belak working on the modernization at Halle’s for Thyssen,
Gary Thompson doing a mod in Akron for Schindler,
Keith Poscocil and Anthony Young doing a mod at Cliff Towers for Kone,
Mike Miller and Craig Nolty installing a four-stop for Otis at the Museum of Contemporary Art,
Shawn Yatsko, Dave Laudermilk, Kevin Driscoll and Bill Yuhas at the Ernst and Young Building for Thyssen,
Scott Hicks and Chris De Jesus installing a five-stop car at AT&T for Schindler,
Jim Thompson and Jonathan Koch doing a four car mod at Metro Hospital for Otis.
As of this writing there are five mechanics out of work.
Till next month…
Work smart, work safe and slow down for safety.