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Please excuse me if this topic has been covered before. I haven't seen it addressed from this particular angle.

The issue concerns health insurance for retirees, *given current trends*.

To summarize:

It seems to me the probability of needing some sort of surgery or ongoing expensive medical care increases with age and often even for those who've always tried to care of themselves.

If your plan drops you the minute to start to cost them money and you don't have sufficient reserves, you're toast.

Aren't there really only two things you can count on?:

(a) A stash in the multiple millions or

(b) Retiring as part of a group plan that can never drop you, for any reason?

Failing (a), does (b) even exist outside of federal government employee retirement?


Also, if we can't count on Social Security, what makes anyone think we can count on Medicare?

Thanks

MG
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The issue concerns health insurance for retirees, *given current trends*.

While heredity has influence on health, lifestyle and environment also have influences. Probably the best way to handle your need for healthcare would be to focus attention on affecting the factors that affect wellness so that you won't need healthcare. Generally wellness programs are composed of lifestyles that consider diet and exercise, and exercise is composed of strength training, aerobic training, and flexibility training. The best lay source I know of healthful lifestyle information is Prevention magazine:
http://www.prevention.com/

Universal health care had been a political issue for a few years. Hillary Clinton proposed a grand revision to health care when she was First Lady. When that plan died, other, less sweeping plans worked their way onto state and federal agendas.

One of the major new benefits is the Health Savings Account that was made law two years ago. This TMF article provides details:
http://www.fool.com/taxes/2004/taxes040730.htm

I suggest that you should visit the webpage for whatever your state calls an insurance commissioner. All states have websites with URLs of the format: http://www.state.XX.us/, where XX is the two-letter postal code for your state. From your state's homepage, look for the insurance commissioner, and then look for his or her vision for the future of health insurance. When you get to the vision, then you may want to call the insurance commissioner's office for details.

I also suggest that you review AARP's vision for universal health care. AARP is a political powerhouse, and they will influence legislators. Their website is:
http://www.aarp.org/

Health insurance has become such a problem that many groups offer their own insurance plans as benefits of membership. Former and soon-to-be-former blue-collar workers should see what their union and trade associations have to offer. Former and soon-to-be-former white-collar workers should see what their professional and industry associations have to offer. Members of religious congregations should see what is available through their places of worship.

Privite health insurance remains available. It's expensive, but it's available. The most reputable source of private health insurance is Blue Cross/Blue Shield:
http://www.bcbs.com/

There is political activisism. You could contact your federal and state elected representatives to let them know your concerns and suggested solutions. Depending on your interest and expertise, you might even volunteer your time to help your legislators develop and advocate positions on healthcare.

Keep in mind that there are finite tax dollars available to legislatures. Creating new benefits requires either cannibalizing existing benefits or raising taxes.

Finally, I believe that when the United States choose to follow the path of employer-provided healthcare many years ago, that decision made sense in the context of the times. However that paradigm no longer makes sense in contemporary American society.

DELETING the tax advantages employers receive for providing health care is not a viable solution. I think the approach should be to TRANSFER the tax advantages from employers to taxpayers.

I would like to see a form of universal CATASTROPHIC health care coupled with routine wellness and medical care. The catastrophic health care would have very high deductibles, say $5,000 or $10,000 per person per year, and individuals would pay the premiums for this insurance through health savings accounts and perhaps receiving additional tax benefits in the process. Individuals would also would pay for routine medical care out of pocket or through health savings accounts. The modification I would make is individuals would get to keep whatever money they didn't spend from their health savings accounts, which would provide a financial incentive for wellness and a disincentive to frivolous use of the healthcare system.

I think a benefit of this approach would be that physicians and other healthcare providers would be forced to focus their attention on providing services to their patients. I think the current system forces physicians and other healthcare providers to focus their attention on providing services to insurance companies and employers.

David Jacobs
TMFDj111
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I much appreciate your comprehensive reply and referenced information.

You hit the nail on the head with respect to employer-provided healthcare.

Over the past five years, my *Fortune 100* employer has continued to chip away at health care benefits to the point where company benefits are now roughly comparable to those offered by small businesses.

At the same time, retiree benefits have wittled away to next to nothing.

IMO, the writing is on the wall.

It's enough to cause me consider changing employment.


MG
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>> I much appreciate your comprehensive reply and referenced information.

You hit the nail on the head with respect to employer-provided healthcare.

Over the past five years, my *Fortune 100* employer has continued to chip away at health care benefits to the point where company benefits are now roughly comparable to those offered by small businesses.
<<

Until 2002, we paid nothing for employer-provided medical benefits. In 2003, we paid $50 every pay period (twice a month) and in 2004 we paid $82. This year it's down to $75 again, but only because we went to a new plan with higher deductible (and the company gives us $2000 in an account -- similar to, but different than -- an HSA, to pay them). The standard plan is up to around $90 now, I think; it was rather remarkable that our company's premium only rose 6% this year for the same plan.

In another year or two I wouldn't be surprised if we had a true HSA plan. I'd actually like to enroll in one of those, because if we FIRE or otherwise become self-employed in our future, I think that would be how we'd deal with health insurance, and by that time -- barring unforeseen medical problems -- we could have a few grand in such an account before we take that plunge *and* the actual premiums would be considerably more affordable.

#29
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TMFDj111 writes:

Probably the best way to handle your need for healthcare would be to focus attention on affecting the factors that affect wellness so that you won't need healthcare.

Always a good idea to take care of yourself, but hardly a plan. For instance my wife and I both have serious genetic disorders. Until we were diagnosed we thought we were healthy. Luckily my backup plan was a career in the Federal Government.

Group Plan
Deductable Premiums
Government Pays 72%
Can Carry into Retirement
Cannot be Turned Down
FSA Available
When Combined with Medicare B Provides Nearly 100% Coverage

Regards,
FMO
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FMO,

It seems like federal government employment is the only guaranteed program, although I am still looking around.


MG
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