Letter: A family’s frustration with Gannett/Indy Star

The letter-writer’s husband, Bob, was laid off from the Indianapolis Star last year

From PAM DiNICOLA: After more than four months of talking with HR at the Indianapolis Star and with the Gannett Benefits Center and Cobra reps, we still haven’t heard anything about Cobra. We need to get Cobra for me, and the time for us to apply for Cobra is running out. We talked to Gannett reps so many times I’ve lost count.

We were told as late as last week that my husband, Bob, is still an active employee, even though he was laid off in June and severance ended in November. No one wants to take responsibility. I’m worried sick I won’t be able to get any health coverage. We’ve run into problems with some of Bob’s recent hospital bills because Medicare was told he’s still a Gannett employee. Thankfully, the people at Medicare believed me when I told them Bob is not a Gannett employee. I’ve cried on the phone, I’ve begged for someone to help us, and still no Cobra information. We tried calling the Gannett Benefits Center again today, and we got nowhere. In fact, today we were told Bob is covered under the Gannett health plan, which of course isn’t true. I tried to explain yet again that Bob’s severance ended in November, but I could tell the benefits rep wasn’t interested in listening.

We’ve tried for the last two days to reach the one person at the benefits center who supposedly has a better understanding of our situation. We’ve sat at home for two days, awaiting his call. We’ve tried twice to reach him and have been told “he’s away from his desk.” I’ve left desperate sounding messages with HR at the Star, because we are desperate. Still waiting to hear from HR and the Gannett Benefits Center. This is an absolute nightmare. My husband thinks Gannett still has us on the books because in some way it’s an advantage for them, rather than the usual incompetence we’ve come to expect from them. Meanwhile, I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday that it looks like I’m going to have to cancel, since we can’t be sure we’ll ever get Cobra.

I also called the Star’s HR department on Thursday and left a message. I haven’t received a call-back yet. Is this a common problem for for Gannett employees?

Comments

comments

3 comments
  1. Heidi said:

    Isn’t this illegal?

  2. Mark said:

    This is completely bizarre because the former employee foots the bill for Cobra (right?) so why the holdup?

  3. Jake said:

    Nothing new – when I was let go by a Gannett paper in 2007, I had a baby due in a month and suddenly had no insurance.
    We had to go the emergency pregnancy option for Medicaid, which led to student doctors who screwed up the delivery and put the baby in the hospital for a month.

    Gannett finally sent the COBRA paperwork thre months after I was let go, about the same time they got around to sending me what I was owed from severance.

    That just capped the Gannett HR experience, which began with them failing to pay me for two months when I was hired and them telling the hospital we didn’t have insurance (which we did) when our first child was born seven months after I was hired.