Demand kills early retiree insurance program earlyby Elizabeth Stawicki, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A federal program subsidizing the health care costs of retirees not eligible for Medicare will end in about two weeks — at least a year early.
A small percentage of early retirees have insurance through their last employer and the federal health care law wanted to give those employers a carrot to keep covering them. People aged 55 to 65 often can't get affordable health insurance on their own because of age and chronic conditions.
More than 150 Minnesota employers took part in the program, ranging from local governments to labor unions to companies.
The federal health care law reimbursed companies, such as Andersen Windows, a major chunk of their retirees' claims. Andersen's Laurie Bauer says that money meant premiums rose only 2 percent instead of 8 percent.
"We had intended to continue the benefits but it really did help to reduce expenses for our retirees," Bauer said.
Congress appropriated $5 billion for the program, but as of this week it was nearly out of money from high demand.