Make us your home page

Duke Energy to drop some retirees from health care coverage

Nonunion Duke Energy retirees 65 and older will not receive health insurance coverage directly from the utility beginning Jan. 1, part of a growing trend by businesses to reduce costs.

The utility issued notices throughout the company over the past several days to tell retirees of the impending change.

If retirees age 65 or older and their eligible spouses and dependents who also are age 65 or older purchase individual medical, prescription drug, dental and vision coverage through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co., they may be eligible for some "support" from Duke, the company said.

An eligible spouse or dependent who is not yet 65 will continue to have access to Duke's medical and prescription drug coverage options for 2014. Duke's current dental and vision coverage will no longer be available to spouses and dependents regardless of age after Dec. 31.

"Over time, the cost of Duke Energy's health coverage for retirees age 65 or older has escalated to a level where it is no longer price competitive with what is available in the individual health plan marketplace," the utility stated in its notice to retirees.

Duke said it will support Medicare-eligible retirees in their transition to the expanding individual health insurance market.

"This approach will provide retirees age 65 or older with multiple comprehensive coverage options and flexibility that will meet their needs in ways that cannot be provided through the current options available under Duke Energy's retiree health coverage plan," said Dave Scanzoni, a spokesman for the utility.

Scanzoni said the utility did not immediately know exactly how many people the policy change will affect in Florida, where Duke is the second-largest investor-owned utility with about 1.7 million customers.

Retirees from Duke Energy and its predecessor, Progress Energy, will join thousands of other retirees throughout the state whose companies have decided they will no longer cover them after the end of the year.

Employers have been increasingly shifting their former workers toward private health insurance exchanges for decades.

Private exchanges have existed for several years but only recently started catching on. They are separate from the public health insurance marketplace being created by the Affordable Care Act.

Jim Warren, executive director of NC WARN, an organization that tracks Duke's policies and practices, called the move just another attempt by the utility to protect profits.

"It does look like more of that trend of favoring shareholders at the expense of employees and the public," Warren said.

Ivan Penn can be reached at or (727) 892-2332.

Duke Energy to drop some retirees from health care coverage 09/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 11:07am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  2. Florida's economy growing faster than other big states and far better than U.S. overall


    When it comes to economic growth, Florida's running alongside the leading states and well ahead of the United States as a whole.

  3. Westshore Marina District project takes shape with another acquisition

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — One of Tampa Bay's prime waterfront areas took another major step toward redevelopment Friday as WCI Communities bought 2.35 acres in Westshore Marina District.

    WCI Communities, Lennar's high-end subsidiary,has paid $2.5 million for 2.35 acres in the Westshore Marina District for 35 townhomes. WCI is under contract  to buy an additional 9.5 acres.
[BTI Partners]
  4. Posh Guy Harvey RV park to open in Tampa Bay with $250,000 cottages


    HOLIDAY — Love those Guy Harvey T-shirts with the soaring marlins? In the not too distant future, you might be able to kick back in your own Guy Harvey cottage in the first-ever Guy Harvey RV park.

    Renderings of the clubhouse and an RV cottage site of the planned Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Tarpon Springs.
[Guy Harvey Outpost Collection]
  5. Port Tampa Bay secures $9 million grant to deepen Big Bend Channel


    Port Tampa Bay has secured a $9 million grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the widening and deepening of the Big Bend Channel in southern Hillsborough County.