Orange County, CA: Retiree health costs soar (OC Register)

November 13, 2012 – The cost of public-employee pensions has attracted increasing concern in California and across the nation. But pensions are not the only retirement benefit whose growing costs are straining budgets and restricting governments’ ability to provide basic services. Retired public employees – unlike their counterparts in the private sector – typically qualify for free or low-cost health insurance. These benefits may begin as early as age 50 and continue for life, sometimes supplementing Medicare. While a great deal for retirees, these “Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB)” programs are costing California municipalities hundreds of millions of dollars a year at a time when layoffs and cutbacks have become all too common.

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