OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits)
Generally speaking, OPEB refers to retiree healthcare but can also include other benefits for retirees like life insurance or legal coverage. Unlike pensions, which is also a “post-employment benefit,” retiree healthcare is generally not protected or guaranteed. There is also no requirement to pre-fund the benefits whereas pension benefits are paid out of an investment fund maintained by the government. These characteristics have two main consequences: 1) OPEB costs are (except in a very few jurisdictions) are “pay as you go” and governments budget only enough money each year to pay the immediate bill for the retirees. 2) Mounting OPEB liabilities generally don’t get the same attention pension liabilities do even after accounting rules were changed in 2007 to require that governments estimate their OPEB liabilities on their balance sheets.
As Joshua Franzel, vice president of research for the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, puts it: “For the most part it’s easier to change the benefits or eliminate benefits [as] governments can tweak around the edges or cut out a lot of the subsidies they provide. [So] when these costs continue up, states are shifting more costs over to the retiree.”
Join the Discussion
After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.
LATEST FINANCE HEADLINES
Alabama’s One-Man Pension Show2 hours ago
In Online Sales Tax Fight, States Adopt New Tactics2 hours ago
With More Funding, Missouri Public Universities Freeze Tuition1 day ago
The Week in Public Finance: Broke Puerto Rico, Slow Financial Disclosures and Trouble in Kansas1 day ago
Pension Envy: Lessons From Well-Managed Plans2 days ago
Georgia Joins States Funding Anti-Abortion Centers3 days ago