Finance Quick Answers
I am retired and have health insurance from my former employer. They have just made several changes to my policy. Can they do that?
Retirees beware: promises of lifetime health insurance coverage from your employer may be written in vanishing ink. Over the past few years several major corporations have reduced or eliminated health benefits for retirees. In 1998 the Supreme Court let stand a lower court’s ruling upholding General Motors right to cut the full health insurance coverage it had promised former employees. Exhausting legal avenues, retirees may have to turn to Congress for help. Mary Signorille, a lawyer for AARP, says retirees should expect to absorb more of their own health care costs in the future as employers shift costs to retirees in the form of higher deductibles, co-payments, and assignment to managed care plans. To find out how secure your health benefits are check the Summary Plan Description. If the SPD says your employer reserves the right to change the terms of your plan, and most do, the rug can be pulled out from under you.
Sandra McKinnon, Consumer & Family Economics Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
Cynthia E. Crawford, Ph.D., Consumer & Family Economics Specialist, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Monday, July 28, 2008