Back on December 1, 2010, an article was posted on the AFL Your Money | Insurance page, entitled: Painful Measures: Losing Retirement Health Insurance.ï¿½ Once again we’re bringing the topic front and center. It simply cannot be overstated.ï¿½ The promise that many employersï¿½made, the promise of a health benefit being provided to you when you need it most, during your retirement years, is being broken. Even if you’re not a retiree, and you are part of the world of the employed, then you, too, may be in for a huge surprise as you approach your “golden age of retirement.” Just because it was promised to you, there are no longer any guarantees that it’s going to happen.
Here are two startling trends from the article.
– In 1988, 66% of large companies (200+ employees) offered a retiree health benefit. Today that figure is 28%.
– Big businesses (200+ employees) are more likely to offer retiree health benefits than small companies – 28% vs. 3%. Yes, that’s not a typo: 3%.
The bottom line is that the once expected provision of employer-provided retiree health care is going the way of the dinosaur.
The implication of this reality couldn’t be clearer. We’re being left in the lurch.ï¿½ Those of us who are After Fiftiers are either facing or are currently experiencing a much more expensive retirement than we had ever thought we would face. On top of the loss of earnings that we’ve faced due to unemployment levels in our age group, we’re smack in the middle of the worst economic slump since the great depression. And many who had retirement savings are finding that those savings have been decimated by market downturns. All this is happening at a time when everything we read says that our most expensive health care years lay ahead of us.
Do we lash out at those who broke their promise of a retiree health benefit? It’s too late for that. The movement to slashï¿½and destroy the benefitï¿½is careening ahead at full steam.ï¿½ But all hope is not lost. Inform yourselves. Read carefully all the materials and news about the changes to Medicare benefits. As Philip Moeller says in his recent piece in US News (2011 Outlook for Senior Healthcare), “health reform (will) reduce some retiree health costs but that typical employees will continue to need substantial savings to pay for their retirement healthcare expenses.”
This is the new reality. Be prepared!