The union for NBA players said this week it will provide health insurance coverage for all retired basketball players with at least three years of service in the league.

UnitedHealthcare, the Minnetonka-based health insurance giant, will be the vendor.

“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,” said Chris Paul, the union president, in a statement.

Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time, but who aren't eligible for Medicare, would be offered solo coverage in a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage, the players association said.

The coverage would come with "modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays," the union added in a statement. Those with more experience in the league would have lower out-of-pocket costs.

Family coverage would be provided to retired players with at least 10 years of service. The program has other benefits for Medicare-eligible retirees.

"The average NBA player’s career in the league lasts just over four years, emphasizing the need for long-term planning for all aspects of life, including health," the NBA players association said in a statement.

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