Energizer terminates retiree insurances

GARRETTSVILLE – Georgia Miller worked for 35 years at the Energizer plant here, beginning her trek to work each day on foot and ending it by catching a ride home with coworkers.

She cried when speaking of the men and women she worked with for more than three decades, saying the plant’s employees functioned as a family. They looked after one another.

“It was just such good place to work,” she said.

She is thankful for the job that helped her raise and support four children after her divorce in the late ’70s. And, when she retired in 2003, she believed the benefits of health and life insurance would last through her golden years.

That was until a few months ago when she received a letter from the company informing her that retiree insurances would be canceled as of Dec. 31.

“It was a surprise,” she said. “I have about 14 prescriptions that I take that now cost me more each month.”

The Eveready battery manufacturing plant is located on Freedom Street in the village. The Energizer company would not disclose how many retiree policies were canceled or how much money was saved, but plant manager Jack Pekarek forwarded a statement from the company.

“Enrollment in Energizer’s retiree health plans has been declining over the past several years and, more often than not, the market outside of Energizer’s health plans is more competitively priced and offers a wider range of options,” according to the statement.

For Miller, the changes have proven significantly less competitive. She was able to get subsidies through Medicare part D, but her monthly costs have risen from about $230 each month to almost $300.

“With the company insurance, I was able to pay everything just fine. But now, I’m still OK, but it’s hard. And I might not always be able to pay it,” she said.

Miller said she doesn’t fault the company for protecting its bottom line, but she is worried about her own.

“I don’t want to talk bad about them. They did what they had to do. I’ll get by,” she said.