New York State
Insurance Department


ISSUED: 7/16/2001

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA ADVISORY

DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES HEALTH COVERAGE OPTIONS FOR EMPLOYEES OF EMPIRE STEEL DUNKIRK
Former Employees Seek Health Coverage after Company Declares Bankruptcy

             The New York State Insurance Department has identified insurers that will assist former employees of Empire Specialty Steel of Dunkirk in replacing coverage lost as a result of the company’s bankruptcy.

            Retirees and employees of Empire Specialty Steel lost coverage with United Healthcare and other insurers when the company closed its doors earlier this month. United Healthcare terminated the group’s health insurance coverage effective July 1, 2001. The Department has worked with Univera Health Plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York to find immediate replacement coverage for retirees.

            Retired employees who are Medicare eligible can enroll in one of the Medicare HMO plans offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western NY (Senior Blue) or Health Care Plan (Senior Choice). Both plans have agreed to accept applications from Empire Steel retirees who lost their coverage with United Healthcare, and will make coverage effective August 1, 2001 if a completed application is received by July 31, 2001. Both Univera and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western NY also offer Medigap policies that are available on an open enrollment basis. We suggest that seniors examine each plan’s network of providers in order to make an informed decision.

            Retirees and employees who are not Medicare eligible can obtain information on HMO coverage available in the area through the Insurance Department’s website (address below). The Department also advises that employees and retirees submit claims to United Healthcare, the administrator for Empire’s self-funded health plan, as soon as possible. United Healthcare will pay claims received prior to August 1, 2001 for service received prior to July 1, 2001.

            The Department urges former employees to replace coverage within 63 days to avoid triggering a new preexisting condition waiting period.

            Former employees are encouraged to call the Insurance For further information on Senior Blue please call (800) 248-9296. For information on Senior Choice please call (800) 659-1986. Seniors can also contact the Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program (HIICAP) for guidance at (716) 753-4471 for the Mayville area, and (716) 366-4465 for the Dunkirk area. Former employees are also advised to contact Richard Corcoran at the United Steelworkers of America at (716) 565-1720.

            Former employees are advised to visit the Department’s website at www.ins.state.ny.us for information on Medicare supplement insurance and HMO coverage available in the area, or call the Buffalo office at (716) 847-7619 or our toll-free number at (800) 342-3736.


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