NBA to Fund Health Care for Former Players with at Least 3 Seasons of Experience

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 27, 2016

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The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced Wednesday it will fund health care for the league's retired players who racked up at least three years of experience, per Howard Beck of Bleacher Report.

The statement noted player representatives passed the vote to fund the health insurance in unanimous fashion. The vote occurred in New York during the NBPA's summer meeting in June.

Beck shared the entire announcement on Twitter:

Howard Beck @HowardBeck

Pretty great: NBA players will fund health care for all retired players with 3+ years of service. https://t.co/cwlrrO2JmJ

The NBPA will offer the insurance program through UnitedHealthcare, and it was called the “first of its kind among North American professional sports” in the statement Beck passed along.

Additional benefits will be offered to those with more experience, including coverage for entire families  for players with at least 10 years of service.

Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times wrote the health reimbursement accounts the NBPA previously offered were only for players who retired after the 2000-01 campaign. Former NBA players who played before that season were not previously eligible.

Schonbrun pointed out the “financial windfall” across the league that came as a result of television contracts (and drove up free-agency contracts this offseason) helped back this decision to expand benefits. However, executive director of the players union Michele Roberts said the push to improve the health insurance for retired players came before the additional monetary backing, per Schonbrun.

Wednesday’s announcement was quickly met with praise. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders and Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report offered words of encouragement for the decision, while Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star cited it as another reason why the NBA is the “best league.”

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul—who is the NBPA president—discussed the expanded benefits in the statement Beck shared:

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. 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.

According to the statement, the average player’s career lasts just more than four years, so this new plan will help players plan and accommodate their future well beyond basketball.