POSTED: Aug 1, 2016 9:57 AM ET
NEW YORK — The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced Wednesday that its player representatives have voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league. This program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports. It also exemplifies the NBPA's focus on the health and welfare of its current, retired and future members.
"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," said 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."
The unanimous vote -- which took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting in New York on June 26 -- established a multi-faceted health insurance program through UnitedHealthcare, the country's leading health benefits provider. The current 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-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 January 1, 2017.
The average NBA player's career in the league lasts just over four years, emphasizing the need for long-term planning for all aspects of life, including health. Since becoming Executive Director of the NBPA nearly two years ago, Michele Roberts and her new executive team have instituted a cardiac screening program for retired players and other initiatives designed to prepare current players for life after basketball and provide opportunities for retired players.
"I couldn't be more proud of Chris, our Executive Committee and our entire membership," said Roberts. "Providing health care 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. 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). Established in 1954, the NBPA mission is to ensure that the rights of NBA players are protected and that every conceivable measure is taken to assist them in maximizing their opportunities and achieving their goals, both on and off the court.