McClatchy to Shut Down Retirees’ Health-Care Plan by End of 2014

McClatchy Co., owner of 30 daily U.S. newspapers, plans to end its health-care plan for retirees at the end of next year, joining a wave of companies reassessing their coverage as the new Affordable Care Act goes into effect.

As the company’s coverage ends, retirees will have to choose between purchasing insurance from exchanges, which are being set up as part of President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation, or pay a $95 tax penalty for failing to buy a health plan.

While McClatchy will continue offering its insurance program until Dec. 31, 2014, the coverage doesn’t meet the requirements of the new legislation, according to a Sept. 10 letter obtained by Bloomberg News. That means retirees won’t be able to use it as their main health plan. The move will affect 51 people, McClatchy said in a separate statement.

“Like other employers across the country we are re-examining all of our health-care plans, including our retiree plans, and making adjustments given the new health-care reform law,” said Ryan Kimball, assistant treasury for the Sacramento, California-based company.

McClatchy joins some of the largest U.S. companies in reassessing health-care plans for former workers. General Electric Co., International Business Machines Corp. and Time Warner Inc. are all steering retirees toward insurance exchanges. While these moves aren’t dictated by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, they’re happening as the law’s public online insurance marketplaces begin Oct. 1.

For McClatchy and other newspaper publishers, the changes come as the industry copes with a print-advertising slump. Marketers are increasingly shifting their budgets to digital venues, where ad rates are typically cheaper.

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