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BENEFIT NEWS ISN'T ALL BAD FOR RETIREES

 BENEFIT NEWS ISN'T ALL BAD FOR RETIREES
 MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- They probably are paying more


out-of-pocket for health coverage, but the news isn't all bad on the benefit front for retired workers, according to a survey of 50 of the nation's largest companies by The Wyatt Company. Twenty-six companies (52 percent) increased retiree cost-sharing for health benefits in 1991.
 The same number have taken, or plan to take, such action in 1992. "Still, retirees are less likely to have experienced significant health benefit changes than active employees," said Wyatt health care consultant, Rick Wald.
 And despite higher health costs and the economic slowdown, 11 companies (22 percent) increased pension benefits in 1991. Half of the companies provided an increase in the last three years.
 "The number of companies reporting increases is surprising," said Wald. "We typically only see this number of increases after periods of high inflation. One likely explanation is that excellent investment returns on pension fund assets over recent years has given employers more leeway to grant increases."
 Unless part of a collective bargaining agreement, pension benefit increases are typically granted voluntarily by employers.
 The survey companies also provide a generous array of other benefits:
 -- Nine of the 50 companies (18 percent) offer long-term care insurance. "While retirees typically pay for this benefit, they get coverage at far less cost than they would if they had to shop for an individual policy," said Wald.
 -- Sixteen companies (32 percent) extend employee assistance programs (EAPs) to retirees.
 -- Nearly all of the companies (96 percent) provide prescription drug benefits. "Because prescription drugs are not covered by Medicare, these benefits have significant value for retirees," said Wald.
 -- Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) provide financial or lifestyle counseling prior to retirement. Two companies continue these counseling services after retirement.
 "Newer-style benefits like long-term care and EAPs were rarely provided to retirees just a few years back," said Wald.
 The Wyatt Company is an international human resources consulting firm. The firm has 3,400 employees and offices in 69 cities worldwide.
 -0- 10/06/92
 /CONTACT: Peter Miller, 612-921-8737, or Rick Wald, 612-921-8731, both of The Wyatt Company/ CO: The Wyatt Company ST: Minnesota IN: SU:


AL -- MN007 -- 7079 10/06/92 12:32 EDT
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Date:Oct 6, 1992
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