Age Discrimination, or a Rational Response to Economic Factors?

Take a few days off, and news just keeps on piling up. In the next few posts, I am going to try to pass along some of the more interesting events, articles, court decisions and stories that crossed my desk over the past several days, starting with this one, a story out of the New York Times today that does an admirable job of explaining a new regulation out of the EEOC allowing employers to provide different health benefits to retirees under 65 than to retirees over that age. The idea behind the regulation is that employers ought to be able to move retirees eligible for Medicare into that program and off of their books, and at the same time, be encouraged to maintain benefits for younger retirees -who are not eligible for Medicare - by knowing that they don’t have to pay for medical benefits to the same extent for the class of older retirees. This is still more of the playing at the margins of the health insurance crisis that we also see, as I discussed here for instance, with state fair share acts; the real problem is the cost to employers of providing health insurance benefits, and steps like this regulation are directed only at making a bad situation a little better, without addressing the fundamental economic problem that creates the need for these half-steps, namely the extraordinary cost to employers of providing health insurance to employees and retirees.