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Message James Jones

Editor's note. We usually reject writings that describe personal lawsuits, but this is a story the illustrates the failure of our current health system. As more companies dismiss thousands of employees, the reality is, a termination can be a death sentence.

It's a little over three months, since Time Warner Cable dropped the bombshell on tiny Coudersport, PA, that they would shut down operations, at their Roadrunner national help desk, call center there, putting 500 agents out of work. On February 5th, the operations were shuttered and the phones stopped ringing. Some agents moved to other Time Warner locations, in Buffalo, Syracuse, Greensboro, and a location in South Carolina. Most of the agents, with families and homes in the Potter County area, signed up for unemployment, waiting for efforts to attract a new call center employer, to materialize. So far, one new employer, Wagner Appliance Parts, has started up, employing about 30 agents.


Time Warner's health benefits ended at the end of February. Cobra is suppose to offer an insurance program, to continue health benefits, on a self-pay basis, for a short period of time, until a displaced worker can find another job with health insurance. After a couple of phone calls to Time Warner, we finally got the Cobra information, in the mail about March 10. Well, Cobra coverage for my wife and I was $900.00 a month. I signed up for medicare at the end of February, and a supplement, that cost me about $250.00 a month. My wife sent in the papers, for the Cobra coverage, at $384.00 a month. She has unresolved medical issues, that need attention.


Today, March 19, she called Time Warner Cable to see if her coverage was in effect, so she could make an appointment with a specialist. The answer was "No, not yet. But, you can pay for it yourself, and then ask for reimbursement from the insurance company." We thought maybe we could afford to pay the first month, to get these issues resolved, and then, try to do without insurance, until she can find another position with benefits. But, no, there's not time to make an appointment and know that it will be paid, without having to pay in advance, and hope that the insurance company will reimburse us, someday. So, if we wait to make the appointment, we'll have to pay another month's premium. Premium for both of us to keep health insurance is $634.00 a month. Her unemployment is $270.00 a week, over 2 weeks checks, to maintain coverage she had through work, for a very small portion of the price.


Time Warner Cable knew they were shutting down this call center. They should have had this coverage in place when coverage ended on February 28th. I think the stall is there, to discourage their former employees from seeking coverage. Most employees made too much to qualify for Adult Basic Health Insurance through the Commonwealth.


The result of this is, people going without insurance. That means possible neglect of irreversible health issues, or seeking medical help from doctors or hospitals, and paying a little bit every month, on the bill.


Time Warner Cable should have taken care of this matter, before our health insurance ran out. Government should get involved, and penalize them for putting us in this vulnerable position. A cobra is a deadly snake. I see why it's called Cobra.


Time Warner Cable's Cobra is a joke.

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Former correspondent for Buffalo Courier Express, Olean Times Herald, First place Editorial, St. Bonaventure press day 1958. Former publisher 1960-1970. Author, editor, free lance contributor.

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