Those Retiring Before 65 Do Not Expect Employer Health Care Coverage

June 24, 2003 ( - Most people polled do not expect to receive health insurance coverage from a former employer if they retire before age 65.

Overall, 48% of the respondents to the Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive Health Care poll did not expect coverage from a former employer, with 22% answering they were not sure and 6% saying the question was not applicable. The remaining 24%, though, said that a former employer should pick up the tab.

Not surprisingly, the closer the respondents got to 65, the more post-retirement employer-funded health care came into the collective conscience. Of those polled between the age of 18 and 24, 44% said they were not sure if a former employer would pick up the cost, compared with only 11% responding the same between the ages of 50 and 64. However, it appear with age workers also being expecting less from their former employers, as 53% said they did not expect health care to come from the old company.

The apparent lack of experience in the younger demographic was also apparent in what the cost of insurance is for those under 65 who are expecting to retire early. Overwhelmingly (41%) this group said they were not sure, with 26% saying monthly health insurance coverage should cost between $1 and $100, 11% saying between $101 and $200 and only 4% answering to the $401 and $500 range. By comparison, those aged between 50 and 64 were similarly unsure (24%) followed by the $201 to $300 range (16%), $401 to $500 (13%), $1 to $100 (11%), $101 to $200 (10%) and $301 to $400 and over $501 both with (9%).

Looking at the group as a whole, again the cost issue is a bit of mystery, with 24% unsure and the remaining brackets breaking down as:

  • $1 – $100 (17%)
  • $201 – $300 (15%)
  • $101 – $200 (13%)
  • $301 – $400 (10%)
  • $401 – $500 (10%)

Yet, when confronted with the actual cost of post-retirement health care costs in the question “actually, health insurance for people aged 60-64 often costs $600 or more a month now and will presumably increase in the future. Many employers do not provide or are cutting out health insurance for retirees. Knowing this, how likely is it that you would work longer, and retire later in order to have health insurance provided by an employer until you were 65?” many respondents started singing a different tune, with an overwhelming majority (62%) saying they were very/somewhat likely to continue working (36% very likely, 26% somewhat likely), followed by only 20% that were not likely (12% not very likely, 9% not at all likely).

The survey was conducted online within the US from June 12 to 16, 2003, among a nationwide cross section of 1,390 people under age 65 years who are currently employed full/part time (but not retired or self-employed).