Veteran players of the NBA have been given a much-needed assist for their twilight years. The player representatives of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced this week they will fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league.

“The game has never before been more popular, and all the players in our league today recognize that we’re only in this position because of the hard work and dedication of the men who came before us,” says Chris Paul, NBPA President and nine-time All-Star. “It’s important that we take care of our entire extended NBA family, and I’m proud of my fellow players for taking this unprecedented step to ensure the health and well-being of our predecessors.”

[Image credit: Bloomberg]
[Image credit: Bloomberg]

The unanimous vote — which took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting on June 26 — established a “multi-faceted health insurance program” through UnitedHealthcare. This retirement program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports, according to a statement.

The current NBPA retirement proposal includes:

  • Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time, but who are not yet eligible for Medicare, would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays.
  • Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs.
  • Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine-year players, and would include coverage for their entire family.
  • Retired players with three to nine years of service who are eligible for Medicare would be offered a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay plan along with a low-cost prescription drug plan; those with 10+ years of service to receive this coverage for themselves and their spouse.

The open enrollment period for retired players would begin this fall, with coverage beginning on Jan. 1, 2017.

The average NBA player’s career lasts just over four years, according to the NBPA.

This isn’t the NBPA’s first foray into the health concern for its retired players. Since joining two years ago, Executive Director of the NBPA Michele Roberts and her executive team have inaugurated a cardiac screening program for retired players and other initiatives designed to prepare current players for retirement.

“Providing healthcare security for players who came before them has been on the players’ minds for the past year and they worked closely with us to make it happen,” Roberts says. “We’re also thrilled to partner with UnitedHealthcare on this initiative. We had many choices, but none matched UnitedHealthcare’s flexibility, experience, clinical expertise, and robust tools and technologies.”

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) is the union for current professional basketball players in the National Basketball Association (NBA). It was established in 1954.

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