Q. I am age 58 and retired. I understand the new reform law helps employers offer health care coverage to their early retirees. What do I need to do to get this coverage?
A. You can’t do anything yourself. It’s up to your former employer to decide whether to apply to the new program, and only employers who already provide health insurance to early retirees can do so.
The new health care law made $5 billion available for what’s called the Early Retirees Reinsurance Program. The money is to help employers pay the cost of health insurance for their retirees who are age 55 and older, until they qualify for Medicare at 65—or until 2014, when the health care reform law fully takes effect. Private and public employers of any size and union-sponsored health plans are eligible to apply right now.