Hampton Roads shipyard retirees now searching for new health insurance

Some retirees in Hampton Roads now have to shop around for new health insurance.

82-year-old Billy Stalls says he retired from the Newport News Shipyard over 20 years ago and never had to worry about coverage.

But now he says he’s scrambling to find a new plan. He has had coverage for more than 20 years.

Now he says he’s one of 4,000 retirees of across the country scrambling to find a new plan.

“It’s a mess and I don’t know why they did it and I don’t know how it came about. Yeah, I’m lost and I’m hoping I can survive going all through this,” said Stalls.

Several months ago, Stalls explains, he received a letter from the company that now owns the shipyard, Huntington Ingalls Industries.

According to the letter, Stalls and other retirees won’t be covered under the company’s group plan for supplemental Medicare coverage as of December 31, 2013.

Instead, he needs has to go through a benefits advisory company, Extend Health, to find a new one.

“I just thought that I had it set up for life until I kicked the bucket,” said Stalls. “I just want to know why they did it. I give them 35 years in the company and I hadn’t caused them any problems since.”

Officials at Huntington Ingalls Industries tell NewsChannel 3 they didn’t drop retirees from coverage. They just call it a change that gives them more options. And they say it has nothing to do with saving the company money.

Stalls admits he’ll pay around $50 less under a new plan that Extend Health helped him find.

But, at 82-years-old, and after years of not having to worry about any of this, he says the whole process has been and still is confusing and something he shouldn’t have to deal with.

He says his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease several years ago and a letter with no further explanation is like a kick in the face.

“I don’t think that’s too fair of a situation because they should have told us more or should have told us why,” said Stalls.