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Energizer Cuts Retiree Benefits, Experts Say It's Not Unusual

5:56 PM, Jul 31, 2013   |    comments
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Asheboro, N.C. - You dedicate your life to a company. In return for your hard work, you might expect the company to take care of you in retirement. However, there is no guarantee.

This week, Energizer announced it is cutting health, dental and life insurance policies for its retirees. Energizer has two plants in Asheboro.

Even if you never worked at Energizer, pay attention to this story. Energizer retirees told WFMY News 2 they were shocked to learn the company was cutting their health, dental and life insurance coverage. Some worked at Energizer for decades and thought they could count on the coverage.

But, legal experts say Energizer's decision isn't unusual.

"Most employers can change their benefits package at any time. For retirees who were offered retiree health plans, they really need to check the documents that they were provided when they were either offered retirement or told they were eligible for this plan to see if there was a promise there that it would be continued indefinitely," Attorney Barbara Ruby of Smith Moore Leatherwood said.

Ruby says Energizer retirees and everyone else should read over their retirement policy now. Look to see if there is language that says the company can change the plan. If there is that kind of language, you are out of luck. However, if your policy says coverage will continue for the rest of your life, you may have to go to court.

Energizer is connecting its retirees with another company that can provide health insurance.

Energizer issued the following statement to WFMY News 2:
"Enrollment in Energizer's retiree health plans has been declining over the past several years and, more often than not, the market outside of Energizer's health plans is more competitively priced and offers a wider range of options. As we evaluated our cost structure going forward, and in reaction to the decline in plan participation, Energizer recently notified retirees that effective December 31, 2013, the Company will discontinue its coverage for retiree health and life insurance benefits. Energizer is providing retirees with the option to work with Extend Health, a leader in Medicare coordination and transition services, to find medical and dental coverage through the individual marketplace. Retirees can also choose their own broker or navigate the individual market on their own. Retirees will have access to the full public and private market offerings for health coverage."

If you're wondering how to read and analyze your own retirement insurance plan, visit http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/publications/retiree_health_benefits.html

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