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Retiree health benefits are on the endangered species

list, right up there with defined-benefit pension plans. A study last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust showed that 38% of employers with 200 or more workers offered retiree health benefits in 2003, down from 66% in 1988. And earlier this year, a survey co-sponsored by Kaiser and Hewitt Associates found that 20% of the big companies offering such benefits might eliminate them for future employees over the next three years. Consulting firm Watson Wyatt predicted a couple of years ago that by 2031, employers will be paying for less than 10% of retiree health costs.

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