Miners, widows left without health care coverage as $20M Bunker Hill Mine settlement runs out

Miners, widows left without health care coverage as $20M Bunker Hill Mine settlement runs out
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Dozens of former Bunker Hill miners, their families and their widows filed into the Elks in Kellogg Thursday, as dozens of questions ran through their minds — the biggest one being ‘what happens next?’ as they recently found out the $20 million Superfund settlement meant to cover their insurance premiums is maxed out.

Linda Duhamel’s husband Bob worked on the Bunker Hill Mine for 42 years. Even after his death, she said she never gave her medical plans a second thought, because she was set. Until now.

“I mean I thought it was a forever thing, I really did, because nobody told me any different,” Linda said. “I thought we were gonna get it, you know, until we were gone.”

Linda told KXLY there was never any indication the money for her health care coverage would run out, until she got a letter in the mail from the Bunker Hill Retiree Medical Plan committee two weeks ago.

“They never ever sent any other letters or anything out. This was just, boom,” Linda said. “Do you really realize how many people are really going to hurt from this?”

According to the letter, the funds, which were contributed in 2005, will be operational through July or possibly August. In the meantime, those affected by the change are meeting with state insurance rep Angie Mackin.

“That’s exactly what we’re here to do is educate folks on what options they have at this point,” Mackin said. “I think they’re just unaware of what their options are and a little bit worried about that the cost is gonna be and how their coverage is going to compare.”

Mackin spoke to the group at the Elks Thursday to sort out their options, answer their questions and ease their anxiety as they start their search for new coverage plans.

“I have a lot of medical problems and I love from payday to payday and I just don’t know what to do,” Linda said.

If you missed this week’s meetings, you can set up a one-on-one meeting with a representative from Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) by calling 1-800-247-4422.

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