Letter: Former WhidbeyHealth employees deserve better

Editor,

One of the rewards of working at WhidbeyHealth for over 20 years was enrollment in one of a number of health insurance plans offered by Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB). On Dec. 6, approximately 100 retirees received a letter from PEBB stating WhidbeyHealth was no longer participating in the PEBB program, effective Dec. 31. And with that, we were thrown to the wind.

Six of us working together tried to get more information. Based on October board minutes, the decision to cancel participation was made at that meeting. No discussion of rationale was documented.

We wondered why WhidbeyHealth had not informed us then, versus just before the holidays and with little time to explore alternatives. In contacts with WhidbeyHealth human resources, PEBB was blamed, and members of the public hospital district board referred us to human resources.

Several days after receiving the Dec. 6 letter, we received a poorly written letter with WhidbeyHealth letterhead, undated and unsigned. It confirmed the withdrawal but was notably lacking in details. Minimal information was provided to help with navigation through the complex world of health insurance.

After many, many hours of phone calls, emails and helpful meetings with SHIBA, we learned there was some good news: Numerous alternatives were available. Ultimately each of us was able to select and apply for a plan. The process, however, was stressful and time consuming. And since then we’ve learned that current employees have been left with very, very few choices.

In a Dec. 22 Whidbey News-Times article, the CEO described the rationale for disengagement as this: PEBB still uses DOS, and WhidbeyHealth couldn’t “access data to enhance the health and wellness of our current staff” and “it has a potential financial benefit.” For whom? Whatever the stated reasons for the PEBB cancellation, there were rumors that seemed more believable: WhidbeyHealth would save money at the expense of employee benefits, or withdrawal would position the hospital better for sale to a larger hospital like Providence.

The CEO and board of commissioners who voted for the cancellation ought to be ashamed of their action, as well as how it was handled. It is certainly not the way long-time employees expect to be rewarded for their service, nor, I imagine, do current employees.

Kathleen Lorence-Flanagan

Anacortes

More in Letters to the Editor

Letters: Kudos to Johnson for ensuring CARES funds fairly disbursed

Editor, I would like to thank Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson for… Continue reading

Letter: Voting for Damian Greene would be a smart move

Editor, I was very encouraged to see Damian Greene enter the race… Continue reading

Letter: Fixating on Trump’s defeat is detrimental to the country

Editor, In response to Cheri Filion’s letter to the editor in the… Continue reading

Letter: Congrats to 2020 recipients of Oak Harbor Music Festival scholarships

Editor, I would like to congratulate the recipients of the Oak Harbor… Continue reading

Letter: Sheriff clearly cares about his deputies, public at large

Editor, Thank God for Sheriff Felici. He obviously cares about his deputies… Continue reading

Letter: Grateful for access to water that boat launch, beach provide

Editor, In response to Mike Christen and Jami Robinson Christen’s letter to… Continue reading

Letter: ‘It is President Trump who is using Hitler’s playbook’

Editor, Recent letters to the editor have made it apparent that the… Continue reading

Letter: Wearing a mask is akin to wearing clothes in public

Editor, Just out of curiosity, why is being asked to wear a… Continue reading

Letter: Experience with fake $20 was defnitely eye-opening

Editor, Having seen much discussion about passing fake $20 being a crime,… Continue reading

Most Read