IBM Retirees Challenge Increased Cost of Health Benefits
IBM retirees are challenging the company on recent changes to their health care benefits that pass along cost increases to retirees, Reuters/Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Sandy Anderson, a retired IBM employee, on Thursday held a press conference with Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to support a new law that would protect retirement benefits, including the "hot button" issue of health coverage, Reuters/Inquirer reports. Health care premiums for some IBM retirees have tripled in the last year, according to Anderson's Web site, www.benefitsrestoration.org. Many large companies -- like IBM -- capped their contributions to retiree health coverage in the mid-1990s after accounting rules changed, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates. Depending upon age and date of retirement, IBM pays $3,000 to $7,500 per year per participating retiree, after which the former employees must pay for all costs. "It's substantial out-of-pocket cost for the retiree," Anderson said. Kendra Collins, an IBM spokesperson, said that the company "has fulfilled its promise to provide retirees with both access to and financial support for health benefits coverage," adding that IBM informed employees in the 1990s that it was capping benefits and that health care costs for employees and retirees might exceeded the caps by the early 2000s. The National Retiree Legislative Network, which includes retirees from IBM, Lucent Technologies and Raytheon, also is lobbying to restore pension and health care benefits for retirees (Humer, Reuters/Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.