Current NFL players offered lifetime medical

In the final proposal that was put on the table by the NFL Management Council, the current players were offered the right to continue participating in the NFL’s medical plan after they retire. 

NFL Executive Vice President of Labor and General Counsel Jeff Pash said “One of the benefits that was created in the last agreement, which we would be continuing, was a health savings account where players, over the course of their career, can build up hundreds of thousands of dollars, in a benefit fund, sort of like a 401k, but for medical expenses which they could then use to pay the premium to stay in the medical plan so there would be no issue of preexisting conditions. There would be no issue of trying to buy insurance as an individual or having to pay the higher rates when you are outside the group. You’d have the same quality of care and the same network all over the country. We thought that the reaction of the players and the reaction of union officials to that proposal was really very positive. That is obviously the first time that the opportunity has been available from the NFL.”

The Gene Upshaw HRA (Health Reimbursement Account) was a benefit that former NFLPA President Troy Vincent and Gene Upshaw were successful in negotiating into the 2006 CBA.

Since most of the players that qualify for the benefit have not started drawing from their accounts, the fund currently has over $194 Million in assets.

A player is eligible for the HRA Plan if (a) he earned a credited season under the Bert Bell / Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan for 2006 or for any year after that (if a Salary Cap was in place) and has a total of three or more credited seasons, or (b) his last credited season was either 2004 or 2005 and he had a total of eight or more credited seasons.

Players receive $25,000 for each of their credited seasons and an additional $50,000 when they achieve their third credited season.

Eligible players  did not receive $25,000 in 2010 because it was an uncapped season and under the CBA rules that were agreed to by the NFL and the NFLPA, the owners were not required to contribute to the fund. The HRA account cannot exceed $300,000 for any individual player.

Based on the eligibility criteria, Drew Brees would have an HRA account totaling $225,000.  

The HRA money was meant to be used by players after their five (5) free years of medical benefits ended, but because players are no longer under the NFL medical plan, they can now use the HRA money to pay the premiums on their Cobra coverage.

Drew  can now use his HRA to pay for direct medical expenses, medical insurance premiums, and medical insurance co-pays and deductibles for himself, his wife and his children.

You may recall, Drew Brees made the following statement at the NFL Players Association convention in Hawaii last year “As one team, we will fight to improve a health care system that currently only gives players five years of health care if you play three years and a plan that doesn’t cover all preventative health care for our wives”.

Exactly one year ago, in an open letter to Drew Brees, Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure said “Not one single player, before 1993, had 5 free years of health insurance after they retired, not to mention coverage for their wives! You want retired players to be on your team. You gotta be kidding me! On every team that I ever played on, we all had the same game plan. Well, your game plan is a lot different than the one most retired players want to see executed. Could one of the reasons you want us to join the “Team” be because the NFL owner’s have discontinued their contributions to your Annuity Plan, Second Career Savings Plan, Tuition Assistance Plan, Health Reimbursement Account? Well, if you want us to fight for your benefits, you better start fighting for ours!”

I wonder how Joe “D” feels about the fact that Drew Brees and the other NFL Player Executive Committee members turned down a CBA that included lifetime medical for the current players?



About Jeff Nixon

Jeff was a first team consensus All-American from the University of Richmond in 1978. He is 7th in NCAA history with 23 career interceptions. Played for the Buffalo Bills 1979-1984. Led the team with 6 interceptions in Rookie Year. Holds Bills record for 4 takeaways in a single game - 3 interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tied Bills record with four consecutive games with an interception. After 5 knee surgeries Jeff retired from pro football in 1985. He worked for 13 years (1988-2000) as the Youth Bureau Director for Buffalo and Erie County. He has worked for the past 11 years as the Youth Employment Director for Buffalo. Plays guitar and was voted best R&B guitar player by Buffalo Nightlife Magazine in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Posted on March 18, 2011, in NFL Alumni News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Jeff… I am 63 and in two years I qualify for medicare health insurance. Why can’t we get a medical plan that covers everyone that played the game. Most of the medical cost for the pre 1968 players are covered by medicare and any pre-existing liability would be covered by the NFL medical plan. Most NFL players don’t live past 75 so I expect the additional pick up cost on many of these old timers would not be that great. It would be a great statement of support from the current players who want to look after those who came before them.
    I think you would be right to focus on this liability as a liability of the NFL owners.
    It would be even better if the medical plan premiums were also discounted at a rate similiar to those of other medical plans. The total cost would be large but would make a lot of sense to the public. The issue of the players being greedy would not be a factor. Ask Drew Brees if he agrees that the old timers deserve to have their health care concerns address. He has his position in the community today because they put their bodies of the line when it matter in the past. This liability should be a no brainer for the current players to address.
    Again, many thanks to you and your team for your efforts on our behalf.

  2. This sounds good for current players. I don’t know about you guys, but it is so hard getting up in the mornings. It is even harder moving around after sitting down a few minutes. And, sleep is hard to come by because i hurt so much. Thank God for the PAT, Gridiron Greats,and Fourth and Goal. Without them I would still be on the street hurting rather than in a doctor’s office getting some type of treatment. We surely worked our asses off for a good organization didn’t we?

  3. I am of the same opinion and certainly stand behind mr. Asher’s comments as well as the statements made by Joe DeLamielleure. Quiet honestly I really do not care that much what is in this for the current players because, as it has been point out, the retired players continue to be neglected and forgotten when it comes to our benefits. I have been out for 13 years now and hade one very small improvement to our ension benefits…you are right Joe, if Drew Brees wants us to join the team then start doing something meaningful for the pre 1993 players. I still do not believe that a 60 percent increase is enough….if that much then how much at the next agreement. These benefits (for pre 1993 players) should be part of each CBA going forward. Mandatory increases included within the bargaining agreement each and every tine it is redone. Right now though, like a lot of other players out there, I feel I have a better chance playing the lottery…until I see some real action!

  4. Jeff,

    Your article mentioned that the recent final proposal put on the table by the NFL Management Council offered the right to continue participating in the medical plan after players retired.

    That seems to be a nice offer if it’s not liked to another issue on the table. If it’s linked then it’s very hard to make any sense out of what Jeff Pash is really proposing.

    Do you know if it was a stand alone proposal without linked conditions? I want to believe Jeff Pash but the devil is in the details!

    Thanks Jeff,

    Rick Eber
    Falcons/Chargers 68-72

  5. Mike Davis Raiders 1977-87

    See through the smoke men.Thats why all mformer players over 50 years of age was offered the long term care through NFL/ Transamerica Life..and a discount rate for your wife. Figure it out as well as the perfect timing of the offering.
    What Drew Bres Said a year ago..I say so what/Big deal. The facts are the facts. It’s on the Barganing table to improve Former Players status regarding vesting at 3 years Just like the current players.. Let the process ofnthe CBA continue..Let’s not speculate on hear say and theory, let’s stnad together and await the outcome.

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