Kinfolk, Ancestors, History & Stories


Kinfolk & Ancestors

NC History

KY & NM History


Bible Records




Unknown Photos

Displaced Workers Deal With Loss Of Insurance

Cassie Tarpley
Staff Writer

LAWNDALE - Frustration is the key word for Carolyn and Larry Pearson right now.

Left in the lurch at the dramatic shutdown Thursday of Cleveland Mills/CaroKnit, the couple faces medical bills there is little money for, Mrs. Pearson said.

Cleveland County residents experiencing déjà vu may have good reason.

This scenario is strikingly similar to the plight of hundreds of Shelby Yarn workers locked out of their jobs in January 2000 and left with no insurance coverage.

That dilemma is winding through the court system, with former workers waiting to hear if they will get any relief from more than $1 million in medical claims they thought were covered by their insurance.

However, unlike Shelby Yarn, which had stopped paying premiums months before the closing, Cleveland Mills/CaroKnit premiums are up to date, a claims administrator told The Star.

That doesn't help the Pearsons right now, but brought a glimmer of hope, Mrs. Pearson said.

"I am disabled and my husband has retired" she said.

When Pearson, a 27-year veteran of the mill, retired last year, he took the COBRA insurance option and has paid nearly $400 a month since then to provide for medical care for him, his wife and his daughter, a student at Cleveland Community College.

"We have this insurance until August, and we were hoping by August all my surgeries and everything would be complete," Mrs. Pearson said.

She said that an insurance clerk for the company's self-insured plan told her Friday that a recent doctor's visit and several prescriptions she thought were covered are not.

Gina Bryan, director of financial services for Paradigm, the administrator for the company's insurance coverage, said her office in Tifton, Ga., has fielded dozens of calls since the surprise Thursday announcement at Cleveland Mills and the other companies involved in the shutdowns.

"The news came as a surprise to us as well," Ms. Bryan said.

"As of yesterday the medical plan was dissolved," she said Friday. "That's the day that I myself notified the drug company not to honor any more claims."

Asked about Mrs. Pearson's bills, she said, "As to whether any doctor's visits back to April will be paid, I can't say. More than likely they are not processed yet, I don't know."

One big fear is that many workers with medical conditions already under treatment cannot get new insurance.

Ms. Bryan said, "We will be sending them certificates of coverage next week so they can go and obtain other coverage."

Without that certificate, anyone with a pre-existing condition would be in trouble, more than likely, she said.

Asked when the mill last paid premiums for its employees, Ms. Bryan responded, "They are not in arrears. They are current, but that's all I can say."

However, Mrs. Pearson countered, "The lady at Paradigm told me our insurance went out of effect April 25, that CVS (Pharmacy) would probably bill me minus the co-pay for the prescriptions.

"CVS has given me a dollar amount of what I'm going to have to pay - $320," she said.

Choking back her tears, Mrs. Pearson said, "I'm on disability and I don't have this kind of money.

"What can we do?"

One thing the couple did do is stop payment on their insurance premium.

"We had made payment on our COBRA coverage this week, almost $400, and had put it our BB&T 24 card," she said. "I called Thursday night and put a stop payment on it." 


Displaced CaroKnit workers should call the Cleveland County Employment Security Commission, (704) 480-5414, for information and to make an appointment to file for unemployment benefits.

There is a special schedule Tuesday, May 8, at the Cleveland County agriculture extension office, 130 S. Post Road, Shelby. The office is in the county office building near Food Lion.