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San Antonio retirees may face reduction in health care benefits

Recent independent studies were made by several different research organizations concerning San Antonio’s retirement plan for its city workers. The good news is that the city’s pension plan ranks with the best-funded programs of all large cities in the U.S. The bad news is that there is a problem with the funding for retirement health care benefits.

The number of retirees receiving health care benefits is more than the number of retirees receiving pension benefits. This is due to the number of retirees who have spouses who are also covered by their retirement health care plan.

According to the reports, unless some changes are made in the funding, such as increasing taxes or increasing the amount employees will be forced to make to their retirement plan, health care benefits will have to be reduced. One suggestion is to eliminate dental and vision coverage for retirees. An additional solution might be to cap payments to medical service providers, which would mean more out of pocket expenses for retirees.

The city manager has expressed concern about maintaining health care benefits at their current level. She notes that health care expenses for city workers are going to increase and solutions must be found to balance services offered to residents with benefits promised to employees of the city. The city manager is one of 13 members of a recent task force formed to study the problem and explore solutions. The Task Force report is expected to be completed in February and submitted to the City Council.

An attorney for the fire and police unions disagrees with the reports. He claims that the health care benefits for city fire and police employees will be just fine and there is no problem with the funding. His recommended solution to the problem is to control city spending.

Former city employees who are now retired and concerned about their promised health care benefits being reduced may want to consult with an experienced employment benefits lawyer.

Source: San Antonio Express-News, "Reports: S.A. pension, retiree health care plans get mixed grades," David Hendricks, Dec. 8, 2013

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