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What Happens to Health Benefits after Retirement?

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  • Richard W. Johnson

    () (Urban Institute)

Abstract

Because most workers receive health benefits from their employers, retirement often disrupts health insurance coverage. Some employers offer health insurance to retirees, but many firms are cutting retiree health benefits by passing more costs to retirees or eliminating benefits altogether. Few alternatives exist. Private nongroup coverage is generally quite expensive, and few people in their 50s and early 60s qualify for publicly financed benefits. Many workers who cannot obtain retiree benefits from their own employers or their spouses’ employers delay retirement to age 65, when Medicare coverage begins. This brief examines the availability and cost of health insurance coverage at ages 55 to 64 and changes in coverage after retirement. Today most workers with employer health benefits retain their coverage when they retire early, although their required premium contributions have increased sharply over the past ten years. In the future, however, steady declines in the share of younger workers with access to retiree health benefits may jeopardize income security for the next generations of retirees.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard W. Johnson, 2007. "What Happens to Health Benefits after Retirement?," Work Opportunity Briefs wob_7, Center for Retirement Research, revised Feb 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwob:wob_7
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    File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/briefs/what-happens-to-health-benefits-after-retirement/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard W. Johnson & Amy J. Davidoff & Kevin Perese, 2003. "Health Insurance Costs and Early Retirement Decisions," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(4), pages 716-729, July.
    2. Rogowski, Jeannette & Karoly, Lynn, 2000. "Health insurance and retirement behavior: evidence from the health and retirement survey," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 529-539, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcus Dillender & Karen Mulligan, 2016. "The Effect of Medicare Eligibility on Spousal Insurance Coverage," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(5), pages 591-605, May.
    2. Owen Haaga & Richard W. Johnson, 2012. "Social Security Claiming: Trends and Business Cycle Effects," Discussion papers 12-01, Urban Institute, Program on Retirement Policy.
    3. Esra Eren Bayindir & Mehmet Yigit Gurdal & Ismail Saglam, 2015. "Does time to Medicare eligibility affect the likelihood of being uninsured?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(3), pages 1589-1597.
    4. Katharine G. Abraham & Susan N. Houseman, 2008. "Removing Barriers to Work for Older Americans," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers,in: Timothy J. Bartik & Susan N. Houseman (ed.), A Future of Good Jobs? America's Challenge in the Global Economy, chapter 5, pages 161-202 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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    Keywords

    retirement; health benefits; disrupt; cutting benefits; health insurance coverage;

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