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?