GM's Get-Well Plan

It wants to shift retiree health care to a UAW trust, in what could be a template for underfunded states and cities

Steve Fecht / GM

The leaders of GM and UAW are working on a landmark health-care compromise in Detroit, Michigan.

Paying for health care means accepting uncertainty. Even with insurance, it's impossible to know when a sudden illness or accident might turn a family's finances inside out. Corporate America has learned its own version of that lesson. When General Motors first offered health-care benefits for its retirees in the 1960s--a perk matched by many other companies across a booming industrial landscape--it couldn't have known that 40 years later, health-care costs would grow three times faster than inflation, that its retirees would one day outnumber current employees by more than 3 to 1 or that the cost of that promise would grow...

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