September 7, 2013
International Business Machines Corp. plans to move about 110,000
retirees off its company-sponsored health plan and instead give them a
payment to buy coverage on a health-insurance exchange, in a sign that
even big, well-capitalized employers aren’t likely to keep providing the
once-common benefits as medical costs continue to rise.
The move, which will affect all IBM retirees once they become
eligible for Medicare, will relieve the technology company of the
responsibility of managing retirement health-care benefits. IBM said the
growing cost of care makes its current plan unsustainable without big
IBM’s shift is an indication that health-insurance marketplaces,
similar to the public exchanges proposed under President Barack Obama’s
health-care overhaul, will play a bigger role as companies move coverage
down the path taken by many pensions, paying employees and retirees a
fixed sum to manage their own care.