HHS Lists Approvals for Early Retiree Reimbursements

By Staff Report

Sep. 1, 2010

The Department of Health and Human Services’ website lists the names of employers and organizations approved for partial reimbursement of early retiree health care claims under a $5 billion federal program.

The link, early_retiree_reinsurance_program.html, includes roughly 2,000 employers and other early retiree health care plan sponsors that had been approved to receive reimbursement as of Wednesday, September 1.

Major employers and others on the approved list include AT&T Inc. in Dallas; Boeing Co. in Chicago; Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. in Novato, California; IBM Corp. in Armonk, New York; Marsh & McLennan Cos. in New York; and the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust in Detroit. The trust is a voluntary employees’ beneficiary association created under a 2007 agreement between the United Auto Workers union and Detroit’s Big Three automakers and provides health care coverage to retired Chrysler, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. employees who were UAW members.

Approved applicants can begin submitting claims later this month for health care bills incurred on June 1 or later. The government will begin issuing reimbursement checks in October, HHS said.

The program, which is part of the federal health care reform law, is intended to encourage employers to keep their early retiree health care plans until at least 2014, when federal premium subsidies begin for the lower-income uninsured, among other aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The early retiree program will reimburse employers for a portion of health care claims by retirees who are at least 55 years old but not yet eligible for Medicare, as well as their covered dependents regardless of age.

Once a participant incurs $15,000 in claims, the government will reimburse plan sponsors for 80 percent of the participant’s claims during a plan year up to a cap of $90,000.

The program requires employers to use the reimbursement to offset future cost increases, plan enrollees’ costs or a combination of the two.

Federal regulators have said they have the authority to stop accepting applications once the $5 billion allocated to the program is distributed. The Washington-based Employee Benefit Research Institute earlier projected that the $5 billion would be exhausted sometime next year, long before its scheduled expiration on December 31, 2013.  

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail


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