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GE cancels health benefits for salaried retirees

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World parity, corporate greed (from my favorite company), whatever the reason(s), we serfs are screwed.

GE cancels health benefits for salaried retirees

DAYTONA BEACH — General Electric, which at one time employed thousands of workers in Daytona Beach, is dropping health benefits for salaried retirees, effective Jan. 1, 2015.

Clarence Green, 81, a retiree who lives in Daytona Beach’s Pelican Bay community, said he recently received notices from the company about the coming change and said he deserves better having devoted 38 years of his life to GE.

“I managed many departments,” he said. “I made money for them. This is a heck of a way to treat their employees who made that business for them over the years.”

Green said health benefits he has received from GE helped him pay out-of-pocket costs not covered by Medicare, the government’s health program for seniors.

The changes by GE will not affect retired hourly employees whose benefits are covered by union contracts.

Retired salaried GE workers will be provided access to a private insurance exchange where they can shop for plans and the company will help to pay for some of the expenses, GE spokesman Dominic McMullan said.

GE will provide $1,000 a year to help retirees pay for premiums and create a fund to aid with catastrophic prescription drug costs. OneExchange, a division of Towers Watson, will run the exchange.

Informational meetings for retirees will be held next week in Daytona Beach Shores.

“The change in our program is consistent with trends among large companies,” McMullan said in a prepared statement. “It allows GE to offer greater choice in coverage while striking a balance among our obligations to employees, retirees and shareowners.”

The movement toward requiring employees and retirees to shoulder more of their health care expenses has been underway for more than four decades as companies seek to compete in a global market, said Aaron Liberman, emeritus professor for the University of Central Florida’s Department of Health Management and Informatics.

IBM Corp. and Time Warner Inc. recently joined GE in moving retirees into private insurance exchanges.

“What we are seeing is the death of employer-based health insurance,” Liberman said. “This is something that has been going on for years. Employers are taking the opportunity now to correct a problem that has existed for too long and that is paying far too much money for health insurance for their employees.”

In 1988, about 66 percent of large firms of 200 or more employees offered retiree health benefits, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit health research organization. That percentage stood at 28 percent last year.

For more than 30 years, GE operated a plant on International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach. The plant was closed in the 1990s after it was acquired by Martin Marietta, which later merged with Lockheed Corp. to form Lockheed Martin.

GE’s Daytona Beach plant produced simulators for the military when it closed and at one time employed more than 3,000 people.

The plant was on property where International Speedway Corp. and development partner Jacoby Development are planning to build their One Daytona mixed-use development, across the street from Daytona International Speedway.



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