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Most Americans didn’t notice, but two big companies — IBM (IBM) and Time Warner (TWX) — recently changed their healthcare plans for retirees in ways that could become a model for how regular American workers get their healthcare. This could end up being the biggest change to private coverage since firms started offering health care benefits after World War II.
Like General Electric and other big companies, IBM and Time Warner have decided to stop purchasing health care insurance for retirees, and instead give those former employees yearly stipends they can spend to buy insurance on their own. Media coverage has focused on the idea of moving retirees onto private health care exchanges that offer a range of plans, similar to the way public exchanges set up under Obamacare will offer coverage.