Sunday, April 4, 2004

'On the good end,' but still worried



RETIRED EXECUTIVE
Bill Luerssen & wife Susan
Bill Luerssen and his wife, Susan Small, are well-covered through P&G. Still, he says, "Health care in America is a mess."
(Meggan Booker photo)

BILL LUERSSEN
59, Montgomery

Type of insurance coverage: PPO offered through ex-employer

Health coverage premium: $250-$300 a month

Family health needs: minimal.

Bill Luerssen is a retired Procter & Gamble executive who says he and his wife, Susan Small, are "ridiculously healthy" and lucky to have solid health benefits.

P&G, long known for its excellent benefits, offers retirees nearly the same medical, dental and vision coverage that active workers get. Retirees are charged relatively modest, monthly co-payments.

Other retirees aren't so lucky. Most don't get retiree health benefits at all. And the percentage of employers that still offers health benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees plummeted from 40 percent in 1993 to 21 percent in 2003, according to the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans.

"Basically, I'm on the good end of things," Luerssen says. "But I am worried about the whole system holding up. We worry like hell about other folks."

Luerssen says, "Health care in America is a mess and not for simple reasons. Anybody who says they've got a simple solution doesn't understand the problem."

He's worried about Cincinnati losing doctors, about the rising numbers of uninsured people nationwide and about the rising costs of medicine. If things continue this way, only the well-off will be able to get good coverage and prompt service, he says.

He doesn't claim to have a way to fix the system, but he's not satisfied with the status quo.

"The current way is not the best," he says. "While our dear president feels that everything can be done by the private sector, I'm not so sure about that."

More stories from Greater Cincinnati families:
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Keith Glassmeyer says health-care benefits are the biggest concern among fellow workers.
Betty Stevens CONCERNED SENIOR
No confidence in Medicare reform
Betty Stevens joined an HMO in the '90s, and saved money at first. She's now less satisfied.
Harry Tyson RETIRED EXECUTIVE
'On the good end,' but still worried
Bill Luerssen is "ridiculously healthy" and lucky to have solid benefits. Not all retirees are so lucky.
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