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Displaced workers could be facing large amounts of medical debts

The economy has been hard on businesses and individuals alike, especially here in the Ohio manufacturing sector. Some workers facing uncertainty in the bankruptcy filing of an aluminum manufacturing company got a short reprieve when officials refused to allow the electric company to turn off power to the Hannibal facility.

As a result of the company's February bankruptcy filing, many company employees were facing huge unexpected medical expenses due to the loss of their company-sponsored health insurance. A spokesman for the employees' union said the workers faced a challenging, complex situation with uncertain employment prospects and spiraling medical costs.

The company's chief executive officer had said last month that he intended to close the plant because the company's electricity rates were too high. After the electric company threatened to shut off power to the facility, the state public utilities commission was convinced to order the power company to keep the electricity flowing -- mostly because, if the plant went dark, its pumping system likely would have failed and leaked harmful substances, including cyanide, into nearby groundwater.

The decision was good news for some of the 1,000 workers at the plant, who feared closure on a day-to-day basis. While most have worked their last shifts, a few will remain through the bankruptcy.

While the Monroe County Department of Jobs and Family Services is authorized to offer job-retraining assistance to the displaced workers, it may be many months before the workers can find comparable employment.

Losing a job and health insurance benefits can rapidly lead to unmanageable medical expenses and a dire financial situation. If your employment status has changed or you have unexpected medical bills, an attorney can often help find a debt relief solution.

Source: HSconnect.com, "PUCO orders power on at Ormet," Casey Junkins, Nov. 1, 2013 

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