Health Law Program May Benefit Early Retirees, Big Firms

A health law program that will go into effect next month will steer $5 billion to buttress employer-sponsored health plans for retirees who are not yet old enough to qualify for Medicare and have no other options for buying coverage, The Associated Press reports. "Older baby boomers working for large companies -- and looking to downshift to less-demanding employment -- could be the immediate beneficiaries." The plan will pay a big chunk of claims for patients in that category, lowering costs for companies and encouraging them to continue to offer the coverage to retirees until more options become available as the result of the health law in 2014 (Alonso-Zaldivar, 5/4).

Politico: "The federal health care overhaul plan requires that the program be implemented by June 21, but HHS plans to have it up and running by June 1, according to a White House official." Here's how it will work: "Employers -- including private companies, local governments, nonprofits, unions or religious entities -- can apply for reimbursements of up 80 percent of claims costs for health benefits between $15,000 and $90,000" (Haberkorn, 5/4).

Bloomberg Businessweek: "There is no limit on what size companies can apply for the subsidy, according to the law signed by Obama. The program would remain in place until 2014, when the overhaul law requires a system of exchanges, or marketplaces, for consumers to shop and select health insurance coverage" (Armstrong, 5/4).

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