The State Worker

Interactive map: Retiree health funding state-by-state

California Gov. Jerry Brown meets with the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board in 2014.
California Gov. Jerry Brown meets with the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board in 2014. The Sacramento Bee

The lead story in today’s Sacramento Bee looks at the looming tussle between California’s state-employee unions and Gov. Jerry Brown over state workers’ and retirees’ health benefits. Currently, the state saves virtually nothing for retiree-health costs, which carry a long-term liability of $71.8 billion and growing. (Three unions are kicking in money now, but it’s a relative drop – about $41 million total – in the ocean of promised benefits.)

This interactive map below (or click here) allows you to view what percentage of retiree benefits are prefunded, state-by-state, using 2012 data compiled by Standard & Poor’s Rating Service. Use the slider to narrow or enlarge the prefunding range.

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CAUTION: It’s tricky comparing retiree-benefits prefunding levels. The level of benefits varies from state-to-state and may include more than health care, such as life insurance. Assumptions on what investments will return can also lower or raise the funding level. Arizona, which leads all states in prefunding the so-called “Other Post Employment Benefits,” or OPEB, gives retirees a $100-to-$600 subsidy, depending on health plan, whereas California pays up to 100 percent of benefits.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

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