Rising health care costs have made it difficult for employers to provide quality, affordable health insurance for workers and retirees while also remaining competitive in the global marketplace. The percentage of large firms providing workers with retiree health coverage has dropped from 66 percent in 1988 to 29 percent in 2009.1 Health insurance premiums for older Americans are over four times more expensive than they are for young adults,2 and the deductible these enrollees pay is, on average, almost four times that for a typical employer-sponsored insurance plan.3
The Affordable Care Act creates a new program called the Early Retiree Program to help address this challenge that employers and older employees are facing. The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program provides $5 billion in financial assistance to employers and unions to help them maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for
Businesses, 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. Applicants who are approved into the program receive reinsurance for the claims of high-cost retirees and their families (80 percent of the costs from $15,000 to $90,000). The program ends on January 1, 2014 when State health insurance Exchanges are up and running.
HHS has approved the following sponsors from Tennessee. More applications are being approved each day.
- Aerospace Contractors’ Trust
- Aerospace Testing Alliance
- Alabama Laborers Health and Welfare Fund
- Arlington County School Board
- Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Y-12, LLC
- BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
- City of Morristown
- Cleveland Utilities, Dept. of City of Cleveland
- County of Rutherford, Office of the Budget Director
- Eastman Chemical Company
- Electric Power Board of Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County
- Federal Express Corporation
- First Horizon Natonal Corporation
- General Shale Brick, Inc.
- Hamilton County Department of Education
- IBEW 915 Health and Welfare Fund
- IBEW Local 666 Benefit Trust Fund
- International Paper Company
- Johnson City Power Board
- Knoxville Utilities Board
- Louisiana Electrical Heath and Welfare Fund
- Louisiana Laborers Health and Welfare Fund
- Louisiana-Pacific Corporation
- MAHLE Industries, Incorporated
- NGK Metals Corporation
- Nissan North America, Inc.
- Operating Engineers Local 474 Health and Welfare Fund
- Pirelli Armstrong Tire Retiree Medical Benefits Trust
- Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 150 Health and Welfare Fund
- Sheet Metal Workers Local 15 Medical
- Sheet Metal Workers Local 177 Health and Welfare Fund
- Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 4 Health and Welfare Fund
- Sheet Metal Workers’ National Health Fund
- Southeast Laborers Health Fund
- Southeastern Carpenters and Milwrights Health Fund
- Southeastern Pipetrades Health and Welfare Fund
- Southern Operators Health Fund
- State of Tennessee
- Tennessee Valley Operating Engineers Health
- UA Local 614 Health and Welfare Fund
 Center for Policy and Research. Individual Health Insurance 2009.
 Kaiser Family Foundation. 2010. Survey of People Who Purchase Their Own Insurance.