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Early retiree reimbursements application released

Posted On: Jun. 29, 2010 12:00 AM CST

WASHINTON—The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an application Tuesday that employers must use to apply for reimbursement of claims incurred by enrollees in early retiree health care plans.

Under the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, the government will reimburse employers for a portion of health care claims incurred by retirees who are at least age 55 but not eligible for Medicare, as well as by retirees' covered dependents, regardless of age.

After a participant in an early retiree plan incurs $15,000 in health care claims in a plan year, the government will reimburse plan sponsors for 80% of claims up to $90,000. The reimbursement applies to claims incurred June 1 or later.

As part of the health care reform law, Congress appropriated $5 billion for the program, which was seen as a way to encourage employers to continue their early retiree health care plans until at least 2014. That is when many key provisions of the health care reform law kick in, including establishing state pools, where lower-income individuals can use federal health insurance premium subsidies to purchase coverage.

“Until Americans have access to affordable insurance plans through health insurance exchanges in 2014, this program will make it easier for retirees and their families to maintain employment-based coverage,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

Earlier, though, the Employee Benefit Research Institute projected that the $5 billion would run out sometime next year, long before the program expires at the end of 2013.

Applications for the subsidy, as well as fact sheets about the program, are available at