Special enrollment set for shut-out workers

Monday, May 12, 2014 6:29 PM
Last updated Tuesday, May 13, 2014 7:04 AM
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CLEARWATER — In just minutes, Anne Fulcher of Rural Health Services Inc. had flown through creating an account for Pamula Burns on the healthcare.gov Web site when Burns asked her a question: Is this part of Obamacare?

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Anne Fulcher (left), a certified application counselor, assists Pamula (center) and Jerry Burns with signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act through a special enrollment period at Fulcher's office at the Margaret J. Weston Medical Center in Clearwater, S.C.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Anne Fulcher (left), a certified application counselor, assists Pamula (center) and Jerry Burns with signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act through a special enrollment period at Fulcher's office at the Margaret J. Weston Medical Center in Clearwater, S.C.

“It’s formally called the Affordable Care Act,” said Fulcher, a public relations and enrollment specialist, and it might be a better deal for Burns and her husband, Jerry.

After 36 years at the AGY plant in Aiken, Jerry and hundreds of others were shut out at the beginning of the month when their union could not reach a contract agreement with the glass fiber manufacturing plant’s operator. Their health insurance also ended then, which is how he and his wife can now apply for coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Though the open enrollment period formally ended March 31 and will not begin again until Nov. 15 for 2015, there is a Special Enrollment Period for people who encounter certain life-changing events in the meantime, such as losing a job and coverage, moving to a new state, getting married, having a baby or getting divorced. Burns and his co-workers now have 60 days from the time they lost coverage to enroll in a new plan through the health law, Fulcher said.

In previous years, their only option might have been to continue coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act law, known as COBRA, which is only for a limited time and is often expensive. In the case of the Burns family, it would be $820 a month for Burns and his wife.

When Fulcher took a preliminary look, one Blue Cross Blue Shield Silver plan would run about $130 a month apiece with a $200 deductible, compared to their current $900 deductible. Fulcher could not find their doctor’s office on the provider list but thought the office might be in negotiations.

“It won’t do us any good if we can’t go to the doctor,” Pamula Burns said.

“If they took your (previous) Blue Cross Blue Shield, more than likely they will take this,” Fulcher said.

Burns said he has not heard whether there has been any progress in negotiations, and Teamsters Local Union No. 509 did not return a call Monday. The company said in an e-mail, “There is no additional information available at this time.”

Jerry Burns has not given up on it.

“I hope we can come back if we can come to an agreement,” he said.

Even so, the insurance they were looking at Monday is a better deal because they have to pay more than $100 a week to add his wife to the insurance through the plant, Pamula Burns said.

“If it works out, we may want to keep it even if they do go back to work,” she said.


If you feel you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act because of a life-altering event, such as losing a job, getting divorced or having a baby, and would like help to enroll, contact Anne Fulcher at Rural Health Services Inc. in Clearwater. You can reach her at (803) 593-0621 or (803) 226-1545 or AFulcher@ruralhs.org.

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Gage Creed
Gage Creed 05/12/14 - 09:35 pm
Hold up... I thought the

Hold up... I thought the union hall had the insurance covered? Hmmmm

hobbyhobs 05/12/14 - 10:47 pm

No, all coverage of the union employees ended 5-2-2014. AGY gave the employees the option to enroll in COBRA which is VERY VERY EXPENSIVE.

dickworth1 05/13/14 - 05:44 am
Think about it

Out of the so called 8 million that signed up for obamacare, 75% of those, 6 million, had insurance and was lost because companies dropped their coverage or insurance companies dropped them from their policies. How is obamacare going to help anyone when 3/4 of these new signups already had insurance? I thought this obamacare was to get those that could not get insurance some coverage! Another social security that the government will spend the money and run deficits and raise the premiums to recover what the politicians steal.

southern2 05/13/14 - 06:55 am
LIE # 1,199,999...."If you

LIE # 1,199,999...."If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor"

The lone voice of Rep Joe Wilson was right and he never should have apologized.

The Mick
The Mick 05/13/14 - 07:31 am
There you go union employees!

There you go union employees! Your President can cover you. And thank your union. You went from having a job and probably good health care insurance to Obamacare. Enjoy

fiscallyresponsible 05/13/14 - 12:16 pm
Oh goody

So now, they either pay $1000 month out of their own pockets for the worst policy that many doctors won't take. Or they get subsidized by me, one of the few remaining taxpayers, and I will pay for their healthcare along with mine.

Just great.

allhans 05/13/14 - 01:42 pm
There is no mention in the

There is no mention in the article regarding co-pay. One party bought the silver plan for one (1) and it has 500.00 deductible, $17.00 co-pay for all prescriptions and $45.00 co-pay to doctor (this to be paid up front).

geecheeriverman 05/13/14 - 02:39 pm
Lets all quit work

Lets all quit work, and go sign up for Obumacare. The problem with this is, someone will have to pay for it. OH, I forget, it is us.

seenitB4 05/13/14 - 05:26 pm

What a stinking mess.

dwb619 05/13/14 - 05:39 pm
strike or lock out

I read the original article about AGY and the union last week.
It was unclear me if the union voted to strike after the contract lapsed, or if AGY decided to "lock out" the employees after the contractor offers were voted down. The third paragraph use the phrase "shut out".
Any one know the real story?

Gage Creed
Gage Creed 05/13/14 - 08:59 pm
I thought that in most unions

I thought that in most unions the hall carried the benefits... that way the members would be covered if they strike or are locked out.

It seems like a Forest Gump moment if you vote to strike and have no insurance or strike pay.

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