Washington, D.C.– The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the first round of applicants accepted into the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. Nearly 2,000 employers, representing large and small businesses, state and local governments, educational institutions, non-profits, and unions have been accepted into the program and will begin to receive reimbursements for employee claims this fall.
Interested groups are encouraged to apply for the next round by visiting www.ERRP.gov. The State of Arizona itself is among the approved applicants and will receive federal assistance with health care costs starting later this year.
Created by the Affordable Care Act to help serve as a bridge to the health insurance exchanges that will become available in 2014, the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program provides $5 billion in financial assistance to employers and unions to help them maintain coverage for early retirees aged 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. Businesses and other employers and unions that are accepted into the program will receive reimbursement for medical claims for early retirees and their spouses, surviving spouses, and dependents. Savings can be used to reduce employer health care costs, provide premium relief to workers and families, or both. The program runs until Jan. 1, 2014.
“It’s difficult for many employers to keep up with skyrocketing health care costs, and this program is a timely opportunity for Arizona businesses to save on one of their primary expenses,” said Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva of the announcement. “Getting insurance cost relief will make it easier for employers to provide high-quality benefits to their retireesand while staying financially competitive, which is what we need here and all over the country.”
The percentage of large firms providing workers with retiree health coverage dropped from 66 percent in 1988 to 29 percent in 2009, according to HHS information. Health insurance premiums for older Americans are over four times more expensive than they are for young adults, and the deductible these enrollees pay is, on average, almost four times that for a typical employer-sponsored insurance plan.
The following 20 Arizona organizations were approved for the first roundof the program:
- American Radio Association Pension & Welfare Plan
- APL Limited
- Arizona Sheet Metal Trade Trust Fund
- Central Arizona Water Conservation District
- City of Mesa
- City of Phoenix
- City of Tucson
- County of Maricopa
- Freeport-McMoRan Copper& Gold Inc.
- Glendale Union High School District #205
- Northern Arizona Public Employees Benefit Trust
- Operating Engineers Local #428 Health & Welfare Trust Funds
- Phoenix Union High School District # 210
- Salt River Project Agriculture Improvement and Power District
- Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 49 Family Health Plan
- Southwestern Teamsters Security Fund
- State of Arizona
- Tucson Electric Power Company
- United Food and Commercial Workers & Employers Arizona
- US Airways, Inc.
Starting in September, approved applicants can begin submitting claims dating back to June 1, 2010. Starting in October, approved applicants will receive reinsurance payments on those claims.
Groups seekinginformation about the program should visit www.ERRP.gov and call the program hotline at (877) 574-3777.Application forms are available online.