NBA Players Association announces it will fund health insurance for retired players

On Wednesday, the NBA Player Association (NBPA) announced a major policy update for members past and present: funded health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league.

NBPA president and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul called the move "unprecedented":

"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," the nine-time All-Star said in a statement. "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."

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The decision to institute this new policy was the result of a unanimous vote during the NBPA's summer meeting at the end of June. The specifics of the plan and who is eligible are as follows:

Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time but who are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays;

Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs;

Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine-year players, and would include coverage for their entire family;

Retired players with three to nine years of service who are eligible for Medicare would be offered a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay plan along with a low-cost prescription drug plan; those with 10+ years of service to receive this coverage for themselves and their spouse.

The open enrollment period for retired players would begin this fall, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2017.

Since the average lifespan of an NBA player's career is just north of four years, a very significant portion of current and former NBA players will fall within the policy's prerequisites. While not every single player in the union will reap the rewards of today's announcement, this new policy serves as the gold standard for all other professional sports players associations to model.

Only time will tell whether the NFL, MLB and NHL player associations follow suit.