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Another slap at those who retired

Ahhhh- you work for a company for decades. You had good health and retirement benefits.

Now? You might lose them or have them reduced if you are 65 and over.

Why? See today’s news

December 27, 2007
U.S. Ruling Backs Benefit Cut at 65 in Retiree Plans
By ROBERT PEAR

WASHINGTON — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that employers could reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

The policy, set forth in a new regulation, allows employers to establish two classes of retirees, with more comprehensive benefits for those under 65 and more limited benefits — or none at all — for those older.

More than 10 million retirees rely on employer-sponsored health plans as a primary source of coverage or as a supplement to Medicare, and Naomi C. Earp, the commission’s chairwoman, said, “This rule will help employers continue to voluntarily provide and maintain these critically important health benefits.”

Premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose an average of 6.1 percent this year and have increased 78 percent since 2001, according to surveys by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Because of the rising cost of health care and the increased life expectancy of workers, the commission said, many employers refuse to provide retiree health benefits or even to negotiate on the issue.

In general, the commission observed, employers are not required by federal law to provide health benefits to either active or retired workers.

Dianna B. Johnston, a lawyer for the commission, said many employers and labor unions had told it that “if they had to provide identical benefits for retirees under 65 and over 65, they would just drop retiree health benefits altogether for both groups.”

In a preamble to the new regulation, published Wednesday in the Federal Register, the commission said, “The final rule is not intended to encourage employers to eliminate any retiree health benefits they may currently provide.”[emphasis mine – ld]

Well it’s not the intention – but intentions don’t count….actions do..so wait and watch.

What this can mean for many is that they can lose the “good” benefits if those benefits were the same as those of current under 65ers. A company may continue to provide the same benefits for all – but it now means they can change the benefits of those over 65 without it being considered age discrimination.

Trust the company? The corporation? Maybe the very same ones who, when faced with problems and declining income for their shareholders, cut the pensions and the feds said “sure?”

And, do you think the CEO’s will also face this or any downward changes? Or will they still have the top of the line health and pension/retirement benefits while you are now possibly going to lose yours?

Isn’t it great to be aging in the good old us of a?

Me? I’d prefer what the nay sayers call “socialized medicine.” Let’s all have the same health insurance benefits; universal health care.

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