Benefit underfunding could threaten seniors' access to long-term care

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Some of the country's largest companies have underfunded their retiree health benefit plans, according to a new survey. This lack of resources could prevent individual retirees from paying for long-term care services in the future, experts say.

A total of 290 companies in the S&P 500-stock index have future retiree health benefits obligations. The companies have a combined deficit of $321 billion for the obligations. That compares to a combined deficit of $140 billion for future obligations among more than 340 companies that offer traditional pensions.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is clearly another train," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P and author of the report "2005 Pensions & Other Post Employment Benefits Report."

To view the S&P report visit http://www2.standardandpoors.com/spf/pdf/index/060605_5OPEB-pr.pdf