Dave Simmonds

Avenel, NJ

I received a retirement package.  I got 5 years added on to my service and my age. And part of that package was also a promise that, for every year of service that I had with the company or combined companies, I would get three percent of my health insurance paid up to a maximum of 90 percent.   Well, I had 35 years service, they gave me 5 years service.  That maxed me out at 90 percent of my health care being paid for by the company.  I was ecstatic!  My healthcare cost me $11.00 a month.  Unbeknownst to me, that lasted through 2001.  I got my first pension check in September, I think.  In October, I had to sign up for the next year’s healthcare and that $11 disappeared.  It was no longer  $11.  Long story short, between 2001 and this year, my healthcare insurance costs out of my pocket have gone up (I’m going to throw a number out of) 2500 percent. 
I was paying $11.00 a month for healthcare; I am now paying $276 a month for healthcare. And my pension did not go up one penny.  So that’s all out of pocket for me.  I have to adjust every year knowing that my healthcare is going to go up. I have to adjust my income, how I watch my money, how I spend my money.
I get the impression that companies feel like they’re doing you a favor by providing you with healthcare.  I don’t look at it that way.  This is something that I worked for.  This is something that my parents didn’t really have.  My father never had healthcare. When I went to the doctor when I was a kid, it came out of my father’s pocket.  When I started working in the mid-60’s, and going on into the 70’s and 80’s, these were things that were part of my employment package, if you will.  I was given a telephone discount, I was given healthcare, I was given life insurance, and a salary.  Now, comparing my salary to other similar industries…you know, I was in several industries -- telecommunications, computers, project management -- comparing my salary to other industries, I could have made more money, going outside.  But the whole idea of that umbrella of security that was provided by my employer -- to include healthcare, wages, death benefit, life insurance, so on and so forth -- meant more than the dollar.  It was something that I thought I would be able to count on.   But the whole idea of it being a gift, or whatever you want to call it, I don’t go along with that.  I worked for that.  I earned it, and I honestly feel I deserve it. 
Hell ya!  They lied to me.  They flat-out lied to me.  When they said, “This is your retirement.  This is what you are getting.  We are going to pay 90 percent of your healthcare costs,” what they failed to tack on to the end of that conversation was, “…but only for 2001.  As we go forward, we aren’t going to do that anymore.  We’ll still pay the 90 percent, but we’ll pay it as though it was still 2001.  If our providers tell us that it’s going up 500 percent, you’re going to pick up the rest.”  They never told us that.  They never shared that with us.
So, yeah, [H.R.] 1322…. I’ll walk to Washington to watch that one go through.