Congratulations to Arizona! Our state government applied for and has been accepted to participate in the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program – which is part of the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”).
The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program provides $5 billion in financial assistance to employers and unions to help them maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. Businesses and other employers and unions that are accepted into the program will receive reimbursement for medical claims for early retirees and their spouses, surviving spouses, and dependents. Savings can be used to reduce employer health care costs, provide premium relief to workers and families, or both. The program ends on January 1, 2014 when State health insurance Exchanges are up and running.
Here is a partial list of Arizona businesses/groups/governments that will be getting help from the Early Reinsurance Program:
- American Radio Association Pension & Welfare Plan
- APL Limited
- Arizona Sheet Metal Trade Trust Fund
- Central Arizona Water Conservation District
- City of Mesa
- City of Phoenix
- City of Tucson
- County of Maricopa
- Freeport-McMoRan Copper& Gold Inc.
- Glendale Union High School District #205
- Northern Arizona Public Employees Benefit Trust
- State of Arizona
- Tucson Electric Power Company
- United Food and Commercial Workers & Employers Arizona
- US Airways, Inc.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said about the program: “Many Americans who retire before they are eligible for Medicare see their life savings disappear because of medical bills and exorbitant rates in the individual health insurance market. The Affordable Care Act’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will make it a little easier for employers to provide high-quality health benefits to their retirees as we work to put in place market reforms to lower costs for all.”
So, congratulations to all those Arizonans who were lucky enough to work for state and local governments and businesses that allow them to keep their health insurance when they retire before they are 65. As an insurance agent, I have met too many people in their early 60’s who are without health insurance because they did not have such generous employers. And too many of these people have been deemed “un-insurable” because of high cholesterol, or diabetes, or breast cancer, or prostate cancer that was cured five years ago.
At least it’s good to know that our Arizona government is benefiting from the Affordable Care Act.