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.I read this as saying that at age 65, even if I am still employed, my employer will not have to provide any health care coverage and I will be solely at the mercy of Medicare and whatever else I can get with a limited income.
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.
But this isn't all bad news. I can also see this as another symptom of the move toward a single payer health insurance system. If the big employers are now seeing moving people toward a government run insurance system as necessary for continued competitiveness then single payer health care is on the way.