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Recruitment, Retention and Retirement in Higher Education

Building and Managing the Faculty of the Future

Edited by Robert L. Clark and Jennifer Ma

This volume examines some of the most pressing employment and compensation issues confronting academic administrators. Contributors discuss topics such as: ageing of faculty, changing economic conditions and shifts in faculty employment patterns, rapid increases in health care costs and trends in retiree health insurance, and adoption of phased and early retirement programs.
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Chapter 6: The future of retiree health benefits in higher education in the United States

Sylvester J. Schieber


6. The future of retiree health benefits in higher education in the United States Sylvester J. Schieber 6.1 INTRODUCTION Many employers in the United States today are grappling with what to do about the retiree health benefit plans they have been sponsoring. In some cases this matter has arisen because the character of these benefits and the regulatory environment in which they operate has raised concerns about the rationale for employer sponsorship of retiree health insurance. Cost inflation for health benefits generally, and particularly for prescription drug benefits that are a major part of retiree health benefit costs, has accentuated the concerns that some employers have about sponsoring these programs. The demographic composition of the workforce and the prospect of burgeoning retiree populations is another consideration that employers are taking into account. Finally, the recent adoption of legislation expanding Medicare’s coverage to include drug benefits for eligible retirees after 2006 naturally raises questions about what employers now sponsoring their own retiree health insurance programs ought to do relative to the new coverage. This chapter explores the myriad issues that employers are now considering as they decide their future role in providing retiree health insurance. The ultimate focus of the chapter is on what is happening in the world of higher education and how employers in this sector of the economy are currently treating retired faculty and how the health insurance now being provided might change in the future. For a variety of...

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