The subject of retiree benefits is becoming a hotly-discussed topic as the general population ages and baby boomers are entering their golden years called retirement. Not only is this group the wealthiest generation to date, it is the first generation to likely have had employee benefits for their entire life. That being the case, when their career comes to an end and their workplace benefits terminate, a benefits void occurs. The realization becomes clear very quickly how much employees truly value their benefit programs. Their value is much greater than we anticipated and to replace them is expensive.
Employers should consider how they can assist employees who are approaching retirement and understand what options are actually available. Many employees now work past what used to be considered the retirement age of 65 and continue to work well into their 70’s. This means an understanding of government programs like the Alberta seniors program (administered by Alberta Blue Cross) become very important as they can integrate with an existing arrangement or standalone benefits depending on your employment status.
If you have actually retired as an employee, you have many options to choose from as most underwriters offer some form of an individual program for retirees. Having said that, as a rule of thumb you typically have a 30 day window from the date your employer benefits terminated to purchase an individual program without providing medical evidence. You should also be aware that all plans are not created equal so some research is required. As is the case with most insurance, the devil is in the details so pay close attention to plan maximums and time frames for items like out of country coverage.
In conclusion, the landscape is changing as it relates to retiree benefits as employers, governments and individuals are all realizing that the costs moving forward are going to place a huge financial burden on the average person. We will continue to monitor this topic moving forward and keep those interested updated.