Group Suggests NYC Retirees Pay for Medicare Premiums

March 24, 2011 ( - New York City should require its retired public employees to pay for Medicare Part B premiums—the way all but four states do—instead of fully reimbursing them, according to a report by a fiscal watchdog group.

New York City switches its retirees to the federal Medicare program from the city’s plans when they qualify at age 65, but the report by the Citizens Budget Commission says the city’s cost of Medicare Part B premiums, which pay for out-of-hospital needs, for example, will hit $2.2 billion by 2015—a 150% increase over a decade, Reuters reports.  

Noting that New York state public workers have had to pay for part of their health insurance premiums since the 1980s, the Citizens Budget Commission, a nonpartisan research group and fiscal watchdog, said: “If retirees paid for half the cost of their premiums, the City would save $620 million in the current year, growing to over $870 million by 2014.”  

Reuters said a mayoral spokesman had no immediate comment on the proposal by the Citizens Budget Commission, though in the past Mayor Bloomberg has called for union workers to pay a share of their health insurance premiums. Last week, a majority of voters polled backed various proposals Bloomberg has made to curb labor costs, from reducing pension benefits for new hires to barring public workers from collecting pensions until they turn 65 years old (see NYC Pension Reform Top of Bloomberg’s Legislative Agenda).  

In 2009, New York City required teachers to work an extra five years, for a total of 15 years, to qualify for retiree health care. The Citizens Budget Commission said this extension should be required of other public workers, according to Reuters.