New Resources for Employers and Unions to Help Keep Health Coverage Accessible and Affordable

If you are an employer, you know how difficult it can be to find – and provide– health insurance for your retired employees who are age 55 or older and not yet eligible for Medicare. 

Some 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.  And the cost of insurance can be out of reach for individuals looking to buy health coverage on their own.

Many employers would like to help their employees make this transition comfortably and provide access to health insurance past retirement. But in these tough economic times, it is difficult for employers to keep up with skyrocketing health care costs for employees and retirees.

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.

Early Retiree Reinsurance Program is a $5 billion program created by the Affordable Care Act to provide financial assistance for employers, including large and small businesses, state and local governments, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and labor unions that will help retirees and their spouses, surviving spouses, and dependents, as well active employees and their families, continue to have access to quality, affordable health coverage. 

There has been a tremendous amount of interest from businesses and organizations from across the country since the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program was announced just a few months ago.  We have received applications from more than half of Fortune 500 companies, all major unions, and government entities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and we are delighted to be able to notify our first round of successful applicants. As of today, nearly 2000 employers and unions have been accepted into the program.

In addition to announcing these approved applications, the Department of Health and Human Services announced today two new information tools for employers and unions interested in the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program – a new website (www.ERRP.gov) and a new hotline (877-574-3777 or 877-574-ERRP).  Employers and unions can find application forms and instructions online, as well as other relevant guidance and regulations from HHS. 

You can also visit here for more information about the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program and an interactive map displaying the employers that have been accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.

Gary Locke is Secretary of Commerce

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