Byline: David Sedore
Jul. 18--Trade in your fully funded, decades-old company pension plan for a new package of retirement benefits that promises to be fully funded.
That's the offer workers at St. Mary's Medical Center were given a decade ago when the West Palm Beach hospital merged with neighboring rival Good Samaritan Medical Center to form Intracoastal Health Systems.
A decade later, Intracoastal no longer owns the hospitals, the result of years of red ink. The pension plan is still there, still the responsibility of Intracoastal and still covering more than 2,300 active and retired workers, according to the plan's 2003 annual report, the most recent available.
But the plan is in the red, having about $23 million in assets to cover promised pension benefits totaling more than $42 million.
Betsy Marvel, a St. Mary's nurse then and now, recalls that workers, many of whom had worked at St. Mary's for decades, were told the Intracoastal pension plan would be fully funded.
"When Intracoastal took over, they decided to have a new pension plan that was more portable," Marvel said. "We were told we wouldn't lose anything."
Chances are good that the former Intracoastal employees will collect the retirement money that's due them. Intracoastal continues to pump money into the pension fund, cutting a check for $2.7 million as recently as last September. Even if the plan …