Today, the Department of Health and Human Services began accepting applications for a program that provides much needed financial relief for employers – as well as unions and state and local governments – providing coverage to early retirees.
The Early Retiree Reinsurance Program will provide $5 billion in financial assistance to help maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare - another example of how health care reform is, and will continue to be, good for business.
As health care costs have skyrocketed, it has become harder for employers to provide health insurance not only to their current employees but also their retirees. A survey found that over the past several decades the percent of firms offering retiree health insurance has dropped by more than half. In 1988, two-thirds of large firms provided health benefits to retiring workers. In 2009, less than a third did so. See the Secretary's White House blog 
For applications and more information about the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program visit www.hhs.gov/ociio .