Employer-sponsored plans receive billions of dollars in federal payments, but they also get something other Medicare Advantage insurers don't: automatic exemptions to some requirements. (Credit: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services)

As a parting gesture to a pandemic-ravaged city, former New York Mayor Bill de Blasio hoped to provide the city with a gift that would keep on giving: new health insurance for 250,000 city retirees partly funded by the federal government. Although he promised better benefits and no change in health care providers, he said the city would save $600 million a year.

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