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The Predictable SurpriseUnraveling the U.S. Retirement System$
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Sylvester J. Schieber

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199890958

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199890958.001.0001

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Retiree Health Benefits

Retiree Health Benefits

Misfortune or Malpractice?

(p.294) 25 Retiree Health Benefits
The Predictable Surprise

Sylvester J. Schieber

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the regulatory issues surrounding retiree health benefits. Employers have played a role in retiree health care, although that role has dwindled over the last quarter century. The financing of retiree health consumption is an extremely important consideration in the retirement income security picture. Before 1935, health insurance plans were rare in the United States. Health insurance spread rapidly, and before long, many employers were financing some or all the cost of health insurance for workers and their dependents. The same factors that encouraged employers to become a primary provider of retirement income security enticed them to also provide health benefits. The chapter first looks at the rise of Medicare and the regulatory conflicts arising from employers’ health insurance for retirees. It then considers the introduction of pay-as-you-go financing on retiree health benefits and how economic irrationality prompted employers to retrench on those benefits. It also explains how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 will change the operating environment for employer-sponsored health plans for retired workers.

Keywords:   retiree health benefits, retiree health care, retirement income security, health insurance, Medicare, retirees, pay-as-you-go financing, employers, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, employer-sponsored health plans

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