The NBA Players Association (NBPA) announced Wednesday that their player representatives unanimously voted to fund health insurance for all retired players who have been part of the league for at least three years.
The average NBA player retires from the league after four seasons, which means that most players will qualify for at least some coverage.
The vote took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting on June 26 in New York, according to the NBPA. In a press release, the NBPA called the change in policy “the first of its kind among North American professional sports.”
The Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, who is president of the Players Association, issued a statement saying he believes it’s important for present-day players to help take care of their extended NBA family, past and present, to ensure their well-being. He also acknowledged that the success today’s NBA players experience is an outcome of the hard work and dedication of those who came before them.
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.
The NBPA will partner with UnitedHealthCare for the program. The amount of coverage a retired player receives will be proportional to the number of years he played in the league.
For example, retired players who played between three and six years in the NBA but are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that would include “modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays.” A player with at least 10 years of service, however, would be offered the same coverage but with “lower out-of-pocket costs” extending to their entire family.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Chris, our executive committee and our entire membership,” Michele Roberts, the executive director of the NBAPA, said in the press release. “Providing health care security for players who came before them has been on the players’ minds for the past year and they worked closely with us to make it happen.”
The open enrollment period for retired players has been scheduled to begin on Jan. 1, 2017.
Note: An earlier version of this article misstated the acronym for the NBA Players Association.