Washington, D.C. -- In a new survey of some of the largest U.S. employers -- conducted prior to passage of the new Medicare prescription drug legislation – 10 percent say they eliminated subsidized health benefits for future retirees in the past year, while 20 percent say they are likely to terminate retiree health coverage for future retirees in the next three years. These changes primarily affect new hires, rather than current retirees. The study also finds that 71 percent of surveyed firms increased retiree contributions to premiums in the past year, and 86 percent plan to increase such contributions within the next three years. The survey of large, private-sector employers was conducted and analyzed by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates.
"Based on current trends, we can expect that fewer retirees will have health coverage in the future and those who do will be paying more for their health care," said Drew Altman, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The 2003 study was conducted between June and September 2003 with 408 large private-sector firms (1,000 or more employees) that offer retiree health benefits, including 45 percent of all Fortune 100 companies and 30 percent of all Fortune 500 companies. Complete survey findings are presented in a new report, Retiree Health Benefits Now and in the Future, available at www.kff.org/medicare/011404package.cfm