Towers Watson, UnitedHealthcare Partner to Design Innovative Solution for Employer-Based Retiree Health Programs

  • New Retiree Health Collaborative gives employers simple alternative to managing their own retiree medical programs while enhancing the value of retirees’ health benefits

Towers Watson, a leading global professional services company, and UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, have partnered to develop the Retiree Health Collaborative, a new health care coverage solution for retirees and employers. The Collaborative is a unique model that seeks to preserve employer-supported retiree health benefits by combining the expertise and services of a leading benefits consultant with the nation’s largest provider of Medicare plans. By pairing the two national firms, the Collaborative will help businesses reduce the financial and administrative burden of offering health coverage while providing Medicare-eligible retirees best in class coverage options.

The Retiree Health Collaborative breaks new ground in the retiree benefit marketplace, offering a simplified and comprehensive approach to employers that want to continue to support their retirees but do not have the time or resources to administer the program themselves.

By shifting management of their retiree medical program to the Collaborative, including plan design, communications, customer service, and health education, employers are able to significantly ease their administrative burdens and associated costs. The assistance of UnitedHealthcare and Towers Watson gives employers full flexibility in benefit design and financial commitment while giving retirees access to a wide array of affordable health care options. A customer service team that is deeply knowledgeable in retiree health issues provides a concierge service to help retirees select the best plan choice for their personal situation at enrollment and answer questions about their Medicare coverage.

“Retiree health programs are costly and complicated, straining company resources in an already difficult business environment,” said Dave Osterndorf, senior Health and Group Benefits actuary at Towers Watson. “Employers have been slow to take advantage of the individual retiree health benefit market and improved purchasing arrangements created by the Medicare Modernization Act, largely due to the complexities of transitioning to, and administrating, these plans on behalf of their retirees. The Retiree Health Collaborative is a new solution that leverages a variety of private Medicare plan alternatives that have evolved over the last four years and provides a framework for continued innovation.”

Depending on how an employer chooses to structure its retiree program offering through the Collaborative, retirees often see an increase in benefit coverage coupled with reduced plan premiums and/or out of pocket costs.

“The Retiree Health Collaborative will help employers preserve a valuable program for retirees, and in many cases enhance their offerings,” said Joe Altman, chief actuary for employer retiree solutions at UnitedHealthcare. “This program can help prevent employers from having to choose between fulfilling their retiree health care obligations and focusing on their bottom line. It is possible to do both. The Retiree Health Collaborative is the best option for delivering retiree health benefits available today.”

The Retiree Health Collaborative is currently available to employers with 500 or more retired plan participants. Launched on a limited basis in late 2009, the Collaborative already includes seven organizations from various industries and geographies representing in excess of 25,000 retirees. The Collaborative will continue to evolve with the market, incorporating new products for both pre-Medicare and Medicare retirees and providing additional options for employers and their retirees.

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare ( provides a full spectrum of consumer-oriented health benefit plans and services to individuals, public sector employers and businesses of all sizes, including more than half of the Fortune 100 companies. The company organizes access to quality, affordable health care services on behalf of approximately 25 million individual consumers, contracting directly with more than 600,000 physicians and care professionals and more than 5,000 hospitals to offer them broad, convenient access to services nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.

About Towers Watson
Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. The company offers solutions in the areas of employee benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at


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Towers Watson, UnitedHealthcare Partner to Design Innovative Solution for Employer-Based Retiree Health Programs