Retired GM workers struggle to replace health care

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  1. #1
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    Retired GM workers struggle to replace health care

    This sucks.


    Retired GM workers struggle to replace health care - International Herald Tribune

    Retired GM workers struggle to replace health care
    By Nick Bunkley
    Monday, November 10, 2008
    DETROIT: General Motors is living on borrowed time, spending more than $2 billion in cash a month and lobbying the U.S. government for a bailout to keep it out of bankruptcy.

    And for about 100,000 of its white-collar retirees, time is about to run out on GM's gold-plated medical benefits.

    To conserve its dwindling cash reserves, GM is eliminating lifetime health care coverage for its legions of retirees at the end of this year, leaving people like Ken Hewitt to fend for themselves in deciding how to cover their doctors' bills and prescription drug costs.

    "Everybody felt like they were set for life," said Hewitt, 81, who retired from the former Chevrolet Engineering Center in 1982 and lives north of Detroit. "It's been difficult, but the information they've given us has been beneficial. Still, when you get to be our age, it's tough to make any big changes like that."

    GM has had little choice this year but to make deep cuts wherever it can, including benefits that were long considered sacred.

    The move was announced in July as part of a package of broad cutbacks to increase the company's liquidity, including a 20 percent reduction in payroll for salaried workers and suspension of GM's annual stock dividend of $1 a share.

    But even these and other measures have not been enough to stabilize the company's finances, as the auto industry suffers from a weakening economy and tight credit that makes it hard for shoppers to get loans.

    On Friday, GM warned that it might run short of cash by mid-2009, and it is asking for federal help with greater urgency.

    GM has estimated that eliminating white-collar retiree medical benefits, in addition to pay and staff cuts in its current white-collar work force, will save the company about $1.5 billion annually. Union contracts prevent the company from revoking coverage for former factory workers. Ford and Chrysler already have cut health coverage for salaried retirees.

    In fact, paying the cost of hospital stays, surgeries and expensive drugs for retirees, a group larger than GM's active work force, is a major reason the company's financial woes are so great. GM says it spent $4.6 billion in 2007 on health care for its one million employees and retirees and their dependents.

    Many retirees say they are aware of the burden these costs represent to the company, so they do not blame GM for cutting them off. Even so, they lament the demise of such a valuable perk.

    "If the company goes out of business, we'll lose everything anyway," said Richard Moore, 70, who held management positions at GM plants in New York and Illinois before retiring in 1991 to suburban Phoenix. "You can't survive by giving away everything."

    GM's decision to halt health care benefits for salaried retirees at age 65 means that nationwide, former engineers, plant managers and executives are anxiously trying to decipher various combinations of Medicare and other insurance plans.

    For months they have been poring over stacks of brochures and sitting through sometimes-baffling sales pitches ahead of an enrollment window that opens this month and ends Dec. 31. Because GM told them that it would cover their health care for life, few studied up on Medicare and other coverage options as they approached retirement.

    "Some of these people have been on GM's plan for 40 or 50 years, and now all of this is thrown at them," said Jack Dickinson, a GM retiree who runs the Web site OverTheHillCarPeople.com. "People are highly upset, confused and totally lost. The Medicare system is very hard for older people to tackle."

    To help retirees pay for their new coverage, GM is raising monthly pension payments by $300, which typically means $240 or $255 after taxes.

    The cost of replacement coverage varies, depending on a person's needs. Some find that they can get adequate benefits for about the same amount as their pension increase, but others must now find several hundred dollars more in their monthly budget.

    "Anyone that thinks they can go out and replace insurance that you had with General Motors for $255 and get the same kind of coverage, I'd like to sell them a bridge in Wisconsin somewhere," said Dickinson, 65, whose irritation with GM's move is apparent in the headline "GM Robs Their Elderly Retirees" on his Web site atop information about the changeover.

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    They just have to hope Chrysler buys them out LOL

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    Quote Originally Posted by min0 lee View Post
    This sucks.
    Yes, it does.

    And for about 100,000 of its white-collar retirees, time is about to run out on GM's gold-plated medical benefits.

    To conserve its dwindling cash reserves, GM is eliminating lifetime health care coverage for its legions of retirees at the end of this year, leaving people like Ken Hewitt to fend for themselves in deciding how to cover their doctors' bills and prescription drug costs.
    After all of those years of hard work. What do they get?

    "GM Robs Their Elderly Retirees" on his Web site atop information about the changeover.
    Keep working hard Americans. Stay with your company. Pay your taxes.

    See what you get.
    It's an accurate statement that our current spending will not be increasing the debt We've stopped spending money that we don't have.

    -- Jack Lew, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, in Feb. 16, 2011 testimony before the Senate Budget Committee.

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    This worries me, I hope we don't lose ours.

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    Quote Originally Posted by min0 lee View Post
    This worries me, I hope we don't lose ours.
    You should know better than leave you well being in the hands of others.

    I have no intentions of relying on a company or the government to take care of me (beyond having health insurance while I'm working).

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    Quote Originally Posted by DOMS View Post
    You should know better than leave you well being in the hands of others.

    I have no intentions of relying on a company or the government to take care of me (beyond having health insurance while I'm working).

    We both made a few investments but it doesn't hurt to have a little extra.
    I don't really think you can have enough. I myself lost $3000.00 to my 401K before I switched it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DOMS View Post
    You should know better than leave you well being in the hands of others.

    I have no intentions of relying on a company or the government to take care of me (beyond having health insurance while I'm working).
    Very true. We are on our own.

    As for the Old School folks that had "gaurantees" with their medical care in their former packages, there may be more rescinsions or cancellations of medical coverage because of the rising cost and some companies losing money, and even going out of business.

    This is one of the reasons why I try to rely on myself and only myself and I also try to live for today, more than trying to "live for the future."
    It's an accurate statement that our current spending will not be increasing the debt We've stopped spending money that we don't have.

    -- Jack Lew, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, in Feb. 16, 2011 testimony before the Senate Budget Committee.

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    I'm broken on this issue...

    I used to work for GM and I use to watch the techs on afternoon's
    have poker games EVERY night as I slaved in front of my PC...

    I think the unions and the MI GOVT killed automotive.
    (lets not forget extreme nepotism, greedy corporatism, poor nationalism, and affirmative action)

    Have Problems?... Chances are its due to overpopulation
    Save The Oceans, Save the Planet, Save Your Family, Save Yourself!



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    How come the government will bail out AIG and other financial industries but won't use some of the money to help bail out the millions of blue collar workers that will be affected?

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    There is talks of that occurring, that they piggy back the 700 Billion bailout.

    Blue Collar my ass, there union brought them to this fate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DOMS View Post
    You should know better than leave you well being in the hands of others.

    I have no intentions of relying on a company or the government to take care of me (beyond having health insurance while I'm working).
    agreed.

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    Those guys had it so good for so long that I don't feel bad.

    High school educated rubes running machines making 6 figures all because of their union and a company that was stupid enough to play ball.

    Most of these guys had all the toys, summer homes, boats, snowmobiles, etc. While people in right-to-work states in similar positions were lucky to make a quarter of what workers at the Big 3 made.

    Sowed, Reaped, Fucked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Black Guy View Post
    Those guys had it so good for so long that I don't feel bad.

    High school educated rubes running machines making 6 figures all because of their union and a company that was stupid enough to play ball.

    Most of these guys had all the toys, summer homes, boats, snowmobiles, etc. While people in right-to-work states in similar positions were lucky to make a quarter of what workers at the Big 3 made.

    Sowed, Reaped, Fucked.
    Who made six figures? My stats don't state that.

    Right-to-work states? A pile of crap.

    Just like the 37 states that have At-will-employment laws.


    Your attitude is misguided, IMO.
    It's an accurate statement that our current spending will not be increasing the debt We've stopped spending money that we don't have.

    -- Jack Lew, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, in Feb. 16, 2011 testimony before the Senate Budget Committee.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by A Black Guy View Post
    Those guys had it so good for so long that I don't feel bad.

    High school educated rubes running machines making 6 figures all because of their union and a company that was stupid enough to play ball.

    Most of these guys had all the toys, summer homes, boats, snowmobiles, etc. While people in right-to-work states in similar positions were lucky to make a quarter of what workers at the Big 3 made.

    Sowed, Reaped, Fucked.
    The best thing that could happen to the US auto industry is to get rid of the unions.

    As for teachers...

    There is a "school" in New York City that is comprised of teachers who are not allowed to work with children (pedophiles and such) but who can't be fired because of unions rules.

    Teachers also like to whine about how they don't make enough money. Even though most of them work 9 months a year (or less).

    "But our job is hard, we work with unruly children!", they whine. Yeah, tell that to the police, firemen, and soldiers who work all year long.

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