MADISON, Wis. (12/29/08)--A shaky economy and its impact on balance sheets has led to cutbacks in companies’ medical benefits programs for retirees. CUNA Mutual will end its subsidy of retiree medical benefits effective Jan. 1--a decision that will affect 1,000 retirees. The insurance company is one of two in Madison that recently announced such measures. The subsidy currently provided by CUNA Mutual covers 50% of retirees’ medical coverage premium, the company said.. CUNA Mutual will provide a lump sum payment to retirees equal to two years of the company subsidy to help them through the transition. Retirees can still purchase group medical plans through the company, but will have to bear the full premium costs. CUNA Mutual said it regrets having to cut the benefit. The health subsidy represents $100 million on the company’s balance sheet. “That is simply too much for a company of our size in these uncertain economic times,” Rick Uhlmann, CUNA Mutual senior manager of media relations, told News Now. “This very difficult decision is one of several actions we are taking to retain appropriate levels of capital and thus our strong financial ratings. Ultimately, it's a decision that is being made in the best interest of our 400,000 policyholders during this economic downturn,” he added.