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warmwinter writes,

At age 56, I have an opportunity to take what may well be a one time chance to absolutely INSURE health care

< I'd be interested in the form of this "absolutely insured health care coverage."

Unless you have a good union or gov't job, a private employer's promise on this issue may not be worth much. Almost every
corporate annual report I read includes a line in the footnotes that says,

"while XYZ corp currently provides health coverage for retirees, we reserve the right to change or eliminate this benefit in the


I agree with intercst. I currently am retired from a Fortune 500 company and each year they chip away at the benefit. To the retirees in one "division" they capped the company contribution toward health insurance premiums which shifted costs to the retiree. Or they pay only "the average of ordinary health costs" which means they allow a basis for their 80% at a rate about 60-75% of the actual charges of the doctor, determined by some employer-paid group using statistics that they will not reveal. Another bank breaker. Or the company may at will increase the pharmaceutical/drug % to the retiree (which by the way Medicare does not pay). Or they decide to exclude certain services or require a second opinion before admission to the hospital ecetera, ecetera. Or they may (as the company that I retired from did) force everyone in a geographic area into an HMO --- and if you refused, they raised your co-pay or deductable so high that it strongly motivated youy to move in the direction of the HMO. And, if you are in an HMO, will they pay for treatment if you are on vacation (outside the HMO area) or in another country? Pehaps, but be ready for a big fight and lots and lots of letters/phone calls, etc. Also, be careful that your plan does not have a LOW maximum lifetime benefits cap (say $1MM), afterwards the company will pay NOTHING. Translated, this means that yoiu should avoid having any MAJOR illnesses or accidents after retiring, i.e no heart attacks, no life threatening illnesses (Ha-ha). (Note: this is why they keep a close tally of the benefits claimed and paid.) Plus -- most importantly -- all employer-paid plans fall under ERISA, not controlled by any states or by any Federal patient's rights legislation. This means that the company can (and will) change plans anytime (if they feel financially threatened) and they are exempt from any lawsuit disputing a claim unless you have a Johnny-Cochran-like lawyer on your team (get ready however to have deeeeep pockets.) Lastly, if you have a claim denied, who do you appeal it to? You guessed it --- the company, certainly not biased in your favor. Take care. Once you are retired your company will actively seek ways to reduce whatever financial burden (health costs being one) that you are to the company's bottom line. Or the company may merge or be sold --- and all the GREAT promises made are tossed to the wind. Now, having heard all of this, are you willing to trust "the company" to hold good on their promises? Ask BIG BLUE retirees, Eastman Kodak retirees, Wang retirees and you'll find the health retirement benefits being tightened eah time they turn around. Take care. Good luck in your decision.

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