Skyline view of downtown Mesa, Arizona

(The Center Square) – Mesa, Arizona, is expanding its medical benefits for eligible full-time employees to include retirement coverage.

Starting in 2023, Mesa will begin offering lifetime medical insurance coverage to eligible employees in hopes of recruiting and retaining employees.

"The Mesa Way has always been to take care of our employees by offering competitive salaries and benefits so they can take care of themselves and their families," Mesa City Manager Chris Brady said in a news release. "Bringing back the lifetime health benefits is an extension of our focus on the health and wellness of our employees. It starts with free primary and pediatric care at our employee Mesa Health and Wellness Center and continues with medical coverage once our employees have retired from Mesa."

The city notes that lifetime benefits are not new to Mesa.

Mesa offered this benefit before Jan. 1, 2009. When the city had to cut $62 million from its general fund, it stopped offering the benefit for new hires.

To be eligible for the benefit, employees must complete 20 years of employment with the city, with at least 10 consecutive years of employment before retirement.

The employees must be retired from working for the city to access their post-retirement health insurance.

"The Valley is experiencing a very competitive job market," Brady said. "We aim to recruit individuals committed to public service and reward those who have dedicated their professional careers to serving Mesa residents and businesses."

The city covers 80% of eligible retirees' insurance premiums for medical, dental, and vision coverage. It currently has 2,200 retirees receiving retirement medical benefits.

About 70% of Mesa's roughly 3,900 full-time employees have been hired since the start of 2009. They could be eligible for retirement medical benefits beginning in 2029.

The city will start saving for the program this year. It will put $26 million aside from the general fund to build up revenue to pay for the program, according to KTVK.

The city of Mesa could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.