Friday, September 10, 2010

Organizations Qualify for Assistance with Early Retiree Health Costs

A number of entities in Maine have qualified for assistance in paying for health care costs in a transitional provision of the federal health care law now in effect. All applications have not been reviewed as of this date, but already Unum Group and two public entities have been approved for assistance. This program, which is available on a first-come, first serve basis until the funding expires, will pay 80 percent of medical claims costs of early retirees, those age 55 and older who have retired but are not yet eligible for Medicare, for health benefits between $15,000 and $90,000.
“We all know that health care costs are a road block to job creation in Maine and the nation,” said Rep. Sharon Treat. Rep. Treat co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Health Care Reform Opportunities and Implementation and the Joint Standing Committee on Insurance and Financial Services. “Early retirees are a cost driver in high premiums and this will help reduce expenses for tax payers and the private sector. This effort is one of the early economic benefits of the health care law that will be phased in over the coming months.”
Many early retirees are caught between not being eligible for Medicare because they are too young and having to try to purchase insurance in the individual market, which is very expensive. Too often these are the people who see their golden years and their hard-earned nest eggs disappear as medical costs mount. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will serve as a temporary effort until health insurance exchanges are phased into effect in 2014 and it is intended to provide much needed financial assistance for employers, including businesses, unions, state and local governments, and nonprofits, so retirees can get quality, affordable insurance.
To date, Unum Group, the Portland Water District and the University of Maine System have been approved. For updates on Maine groups that have been accepted, click here:
The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program is one of several provisions of the federal health care law that that are now in effect. These include tax credits for small businesses, relief for seniors from the Medicare Part D “donut hole,” coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions, extending coverage for young adults, free preventive care and many consumer protections from insurance industry abuses.
Congress appropriated funding of $5 billion for the program as part of the Affordable Care act of 2010 to assist businesses in covering the costs of providing early retirees with health insurance coverage. Funds were made available on a first come, first served basis.
The reinsurance program is overseen by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. Applications for the program, as well as fact sheets and application assistance can be found at: