WARREN - About 75 area steel industry retirees got details Wednesday about a new tax-subsidized health care trust for people whose pension plan was terminated by bankrupt employers.
The Steel Retiree Voluntary Employees' Beneficiary Association Trust covers more than 45,000 steel company retirees, spouses and dependents aged 55-64, many from the Mahoning Valley.
Approved by a New York bankruptcy judge June 5, it follows an auto trust authorized last October that covers retirees from Delphi Corp., Denman Tire, Howell Industries and KD Lamp, among others.
Amy Cone, a managing partner of Houston-based insurance broker Cone Insurance, said the crowd was bigger than sessions the company held last week in Michigan. Two more informational meetings are set for today at the St. Demetrios Community Center on Atlantic Street N.E.
Participants pay only 27.5 percent of their monthly premium, with the federal Health Coverage Tax Credit covering 72.5 percent.
An individual would pay $234 a month of an $850-a-month health plan that includes vision and dental, Cone said. Two people would pay about $581 a month for the same coverage costing $2,100.
The premium can be paid either once a year or monthly, although Cone said the best option typically would be monthly.
Warren resident Bob Cassidy, who worked nearly 30 years at the Warren steel mill through ownerships of Republic, LTV, WCI, Severstal and now RG Steel, said the plan seemed reasonably priced, although he buys his own insurance now.
Larry Engle, 61, and his wife, Jill, however, felt it was too pricey, especially for a family plan that would require them to pay about $800 a month of the total.
They said they'd need the family plan because President Barack Obama has raised the age that children can stay on their parents' health coverage to 26. Their daughters are 22 and 24.
A 40-year worker at the Warren steel mill, Engle said he's still covered because he continues to work at RG Steel, which is continuing to pay benefits in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
"This is for down the road, in case they close," he said, adding he could go on his wife's school health coverage for a lower cost.