The National Basketball Players Association will begin funding health care for retired players with at least three years of service time, it announced Wednesday.
NBPA representatives voted unanimously to fund insurance for former players, the first program in North American professional sports to take care of players in this manner.
“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 NBPA president Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers in a statement. “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 Players Association’s proposal includes a system, partnering with UnitedHealthcare, offering tiered financial coverage that offers lower out-of-pocket costs the longer a player’s tenure in the league lasts. After accruing 10 years of service, players receive coverage for their entire family after retirement. Enrollment for retired players would begin Jan. 1.
The average player’s career lasts just over four years. The New York Times reports there are more than 1,500 retired players who will benefit from the improved coverage. The plan will cost the union a reported $12–$15 million annually.