WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published August 04, 2011, 05:44 PM

Another Crystal Lockout Effect: Uncertainty in Health Care Coverage

American Crystal Sugar employees have had to face a company lockout for almost a week now. And now one employee in the area is facing a deadly disease and uncertainty about his health insurance.

By: Brady Mallory, WDAZ

American Crystal Sugar employees have had to face a company lockout for almost a week now.

And now one employee in the area is facing a deadly disease and uncertainty about his health insurance.

52-year-old John Durkin has been an American Crystal Sugar in East Grand Forks for 34 years. He says the lockout's been tough, and being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer around the same time, has been even tougher.

Doctors found a tumor inside of Durkin the size of a basketball. He'll have to have 18 rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. His health insurance ended when the lockout began.

While his co-workers rally in the streets, Durkin is trying to figure out how he is going to pay for treatments.

American Crystal spokesman Brian Ingulsrud says Durkin and other employees have the option to extend their insurance through COBRA. But that means Durkin will have to pay around $1,300 a month.

"Got that covered for one or two months maybe, and I have house payments. That's what I saved money for. I took it out of my 401K plan to cover my house. And then this happens," Durkin said.

Durkin's tumor is inoperable. His nephew says doctors should be starting chemo and radiation pretty soon to see if see if they can shrink it a bit, and then they'll do some more tests.

According to the COBRA website, he would be covered for 18 months.

Tags: