Sears Cuts Retiree Health Care Benefits

September 22, 2005 ( - To cut costs, Sears Holdings Corp. has announced that its retirees under age 65 will soon have to pay their own health care premiums.

Reuters reports that, beginning January 1, 2006, those who retired prior to 2000 and are younger than age 65 will have to pay the full cost of their medical premiums. They will receive subsidies again when they reach age 65 and are eligible for Medicare, a spokesman told Reuters.

Those who retired after 2000 and are less than age 65 will have to pay the full cost of their premiums and will not receive subsidies after they turn 65.

All will still have access to Sears health care plan which the company says is cheaper for most retirees than if they bought coverage on their own, Reuters reports.

About one-third of retirees who are eligible, or around 45,000, are enrolled in the company’s retiree health care plan. The spokesman told Reuters that the rest get coverage through a spouse, another employer or private plans. Sears is one of the only major US retailers that provides retiree health care coverage, Reuters noted.