The Obama administration is allocating $5 billion to help employers maintain health coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. By June, employers can apply for federal financial assistance through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The program (the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program in the Affordable Care Act) will end in 2014, when Americans will be able to choose from additional coverage options through the health insurance exchanges, according to HHS.

"Rising costs have made it hard for employers to provide quality, affordable health insurance for workers and retirees," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement released Tuesday. "As a result, many Americans who retire before they are eligible for Medicare are worried about losing health insurance coverage through their former employers, putting them at risk of losing their life savings due to medical costs. This new program will provide much-needed relief so that employers can provide more retirees with quality, affordable insurance, starting this year."

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