After waiting for 18 months for insurance, he can't afford his portion, and still has almost the same amount of time to go before his child will be eligible, so even though he works for a company that provides insurance, both remain on Medi-Cal. BD
Tony Mays, who cuts meat at the Vons in Echo Park, lets me into his apartment. When I don't see the son he told me about on the phone, I figure he must be in the bedroom. But then I realize there is no bedroom.
It's a studio apartment, says Mays, 31. His son, 3-year-old Tony Jr., is behind me, nodded out on a bed in a little cubbyhole. The room, in a former hotel near Washington and Main near downtown Los Angeles, is stuffy, and the small fan isn't doing the child much good on a warm evening.
What really bothers Mays, though, about the current contract is that he didn't even qualify for partial healthcare benefits until 18 months after he was hired. Even now that he would qualify to purchase company insurance, he can't afford his share of the cost. Tony Jr. won't be eligible until his dad has been on the job 30 months.
Right now both are on Medi-Cal, which means that despite healthy profits at Vons and the other supermarket chains, taxpayers are picking up the tab for employee healthcare. It's similar to the Wal-Mart story, in which low prices and huge profits are made possible in part by low pay and lousy healthcare benefits for employees, many of whom end up on the health insurance dole.