Health Fair to Help Uninsured, Displaced Maytag Employees
By: Carly O'Keefe
HERRIN, Ill. - When the Herrin Maytag plant closed its doors late last year, nearly 1000 employees were laid off and had some tough choices to make in terms of their futures. Now, they face tough choices when it comes to going to the doctor.
"We did have free health insurance depending on seniority, some of those ran out in April, everyone's ran out in July," said former Maytag employee Donna Jeter.
Since she and her husband were laid off in December 2006, Jeter has been working as an A.F.L.C.I.O. peer counselor, helping her fellow displaced workers find the resources they need to solve problems; but without solid health insurance, her family is in a tough spot too.
"We're not as bad as most. My husband is ex-military so we have some coverage, but my husband has cancer and is going through treatments right now and we're like everybody else, we're worried about how we're going to pay for health care," said Jeter.
Maytag employees were eligible for COBRA health benefits following the lay-off, but Jeter says the coverage is too costly for most.
"For a family, a spouse, and an individual, it would be $735 a month, if you add children, you're looking at $1100 to $1600," said Jeter.
What some displaced employees don't know is that they do have options. That's a message Nancy Muzzarelli of Shawnee Health Services hopes to get out Saturday at a free health fair in the Man-Tra-Con office in the Illinois Centre Mall in Marion.
"I often have trouble at health fairs sometimes. I have to be careful with my words. Sometimes people think I'm selling health insurance, and I'm not. I'm trying to tell them they can get care from a physician or a physician practitioner or a dentist at a lower cost," Muzzarelli said.
The health fair will offer cholesterol and glucose screenings as well as educate folks about state and local programs that offer health care without emptying their wallets.
"It's a way they can identify some of these issues before they become major problems in their lives, and we can help them find the agency to provide care to them even if they don't have health insurance," said Cary Minis, a healthcare liaison with Man-Tra-Con.
The free health fair is open to anyone receiving help from Man-Tra-Con, which includes displaced Maytag and Technicolor Universal employees.