Company in disarray leaves workers with big medical bills

Posted at 1:18 PM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-16 13:18:19-05

WINDHAM, CT (WTIC/CNN) - Imagine going thousands of dollars into debt because you thought you had health insurance but didn't. 

That's what some employees at Douglas Manor said happened to them, and they're stuck footing the bill. 

"I think most of us were in shock," said an employee, who asked for her identity to be hidden.

Dozens of nursing home employees were stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills.

"I lost around $13,500, and it was for my surgery and to go to the OB-GYN and to the dentist," she said.

She said her problems started last year, when some of her insurance claims were never paid, like her $8,000 surgery bill. 

"My doctor said it was paid but not posted, so they had been issued a bad check," the employee said.

Several employees said their insurance was cut off in January, but they didn't find out until May - after many had unknowingly gone to the doctor without insurance or were still paying into their plans. 

"Nobody knew, no," the employee said. "We deserved better than that." 

Affinity Healthcare, which owned Douglas Manor, Blair Manor in Enfield and Ellis Manor in Hartford, is now under state control.  

That employee said that she and her co-workers have since received healthcare again, but said they are still responsible for paying off all the bills they received during their insurance lapse.

The receivership report, compiled by the Commissioner of Social Service's office in June, uncovered serious issues: records in disarray, payroll not being funded and facilities in dire need of repair.

"There was mold in a couple of the residents rooms," the employee said.

Serious quality of care issues also prompted a report by social services to the health department.

"Before I knew it everything was just falling apart," the employee said.

In the receivership report, employee health insurance was called "an urgent priority," with one plan administrator estimating the outstanding unpaid claims total $500,000. 

Employees also reported claims going unpaid or inconsistently paid for the last two years. 

"There was rumors going around that the medical bills weren't being paid, so I myself went ahead and called these doctors to find out if they were being paid. And I was told they weren't," the employee said. 

She estimated it will take her 10 years' to pay off all her bills.

Court documents from the receivership list dozens of claims from employees at all three facilities for medical bills left unpaid. 

There are other losses, too. "Sick time, I lost about 40 hours. Vacation time, I was due for three weeks," she said. 

The employee said she repeatedly went to management about the problem, but was told over and over they'd check into it, something she says they never did. 

"It really is a good facility. I think it was just owned by the wrong people," she said. 

The state is about to begin the bidding process to sell off Douglas Manor. Administrators at Douglas Manor never returned calls for comment.

On Monday, Enfield's town manager announced the closing of Blair Manor.

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