Report: Unfunded Retiree Health Care Costs Loom Large

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Someday, your child’s teacher, and the police officer who patrols your streets, will retire. Your city or town will have to continue health coverage for these former municipal employees for the rest of their lives.

Local officials are not required to set money aside for this looming bill, but they do have to keep track of how much money it will take to fund it.

Want to guess what the 50 largest communities in Massachusetts expect to owe for current employees and retirees? In total, $20 billion -- that’s according to a report out Tuesday from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

"That is two-and-a-half times the unfunded liability for pensions, which has received all the attention," said Mike Widmer, president of the foundation. He joined Morning Edition Tuesday to put that $20 billion in context.

"Retiree health care obligations have been sitting on the sidelines, people haven't paid any attention to them, and it turns out they are a much more mammoth and unfunded obligation than employee and retiree pensions," he said.


— Here's the MTF report (on Scribd):

This program aired on February 15, 2011.

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Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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