As if it weren’t enough to save every spare cent for retirement costs, you may have to start saving for retirement health care too.

More and more employers are cutting health care benefits for retirees reports Washington, D.C.-based Employee Benefit Research Institute.

In 2006, only 29 percent of employers with 500 or more employees offered health care benefits to early retirees. Only 19 percent of the same companies offered benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees.

In 1993, 46 percent of those employers provided early retiree health benefits. And 40 percent of them supported Medicare-eligible retirees.

EBRI also reported in July 2006 that even though workers may be working for firms that offer retiree health care, those workers may not be eligible for it in the long run.

You’ve probably heard that Chrysler recently shifted its retiree health care burden to unions. It’s funding a $10.3 billion trust that will be run by the union. This is probably the first step in making the union fully responsible for retiree benefits.

It’s going to be all up to you. Here are some options:

*Start a health savings account (check out

*Get long term care insurance if you’re young enough and healthy enough to afford it. Premiums will be lower if you start younger.

*Designate a savings or money market account for future health care costs. Hope it gets at least a 10 percent average annual return to stay ahead of soaring medical costs.

And remember, while you can’t control your genes, do all you can to stay healthy. You can control whether you eat the whole pan of brownies, whether you work out and how much sleep you get.

Published: Oct 18, 2007