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Medicare News

One Retiree Health Reform Program So Popular It Will Stop Taking Applications

Early Retiree Reinsurance Program has used nearly $1.8 billion to help early retirees; nearing funding limit

April 1, 2011 – One program in the Affordable Care Act has been so successful that no more applications will be accepted after May 5. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a report yesterday showing the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program has provided nearly $1.8 billion to organizations to reduce health insurance costs for retirees and their families.

The ERRP has provided funds to more than 1,300 employers across all 50 states.This Affordable Care Act program is providing significant relief to a broad array of businesses, state and local governments, non-profits, unions and others that offer health insurance to their early retirees, according to the CMS news release.


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CMS also announced that, due to the overwhelming response, the ERRP program will no longer be accepting applications after May 5, 2011, consistent with the law’s guidance based on the availability of funding.

“We are thrilled with the success of the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program and excited that we are helping maintain coverage and moderate costs for millions of American workers and retirees,” said Steve Larsen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) at CMS, which administers the program. 

“Insurance for older Americans is over four times more expensive than coverage for young adults and we are happy that this program is helping employers maintain coverage.”

The report details reimbursements received by each participating plan sponsor.  Most of the individual ERRP payments made in 2010 were for less than $1 million, and 43-percent of individual payments were for less than $100,000. 

In addition to the smaller payments, larger plans covering millions of retirees – including private corporations, state governments, and multi-employer welfare plans – received large reimbursements that have provided essential support as they struggle to maintain coverage and keep costs low. 

One large employer reported that ERRP reimbursements provided a 3-percent premium discount for retirees, a savings of up to $200 million. 

“Health care costs are one of the most daunting challenges to the long-term growth and success of businesses,” said Richard Popper, director of Insurance Programs at CCIIO.  “This program makes sure that no matter who you worked for, a large or small company, your former employer has the resources necessary to keep you covered.”

To read the report (pdf), click here.


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