Retiree health benefits solutions: Four qualities to look for 

Dec 03 2021

You’ve been providing health benefits to your retirees for years. You’re glad you can: It rewards loyalty, protects people your valued colleagues and promotes engagement within your business. But as health reform adds to administrative burdens and the need to control cost intensifies, it feels like each day there’s less time to manage the retiree program.

Maybe the question isn’t whether your retiree health benefits are worthwhile — but whether you’re delivering the benefits in the right way. Take a look at your retiree health benefits plan and ask yourself if it offers:

  1. A variety of plan options

    Whether you’re working with pre-65 retirees or those who are eligible for Medicare, your benefits solution should meet a wide range of needs to accommodate all retirees, regardless of their circumstances and budget.

    Instead of a group plan solution, your retirees could benefit from access to individual plans with varying deductibles, out-of-pocket limits, coinsurance and prescription coverage — that could also offer short-term medical, dental and vision plans. Retirement can give your retirees the opportunity to customize a package of benefits to meet their changing needs.

  2. Dedicated support for retirees

    Whether you have 200 people transitioning to retirement or 2,000, the issues are the same:

    • Moving to a new health plan can involve substantial paperwork.
    • The retirees’ new deductibles, coinsurance, prescription coverage and other benefits might vary from their old plans.
    • Provider networks can change.
    • Even once they’re settled into their new plans, retirees’ benefits can change from year-to-year.
    • Retirees fear the unknown and feel apprehensive with change, which creates undo stress.

    The result? Questions and more questions. This can create a full-time job for your human resources department — requiring time they don’t have.

    Alternatively, if you engaged a trusted partner to take over the day-to-day responsibilities for running the program and being the single point of contact for your retirees you can create an atmosphere of trust...and give your company the space it needs to focus on current employees while still ensuring your retirees are taken care of.

  3. A multimedia change management and communications strategy

    Your solution should offer:

    • A step-by-step overview of what is changing, what they need to do and how the change will benefit them
    • Easy-to-understand enrollment materials
    • A call center with extended hours during open enrollment
    • A website with information and tools created specifically for retirees
    • Letters, flyers, postcards and other updates in the mail
    • Social media with tips on how to use benefits wisely

    No two retirees are alike, so a wide range of channels is critical in keeping them up‑to‑date on their benefits. Regular outreach and education should be a priority of your benefits provider.

  4. Seamless, end-to-end transitioning for you

    Transitioning your retiree health benefits solution should be a seamless process. You need an implementation manager who picks up the ball and runs with it.

    That means overseeing enrollment, ensuring your retirees know how to reach a benefits counselor, making sure claims are being processed smoothly, being available to answer your questions at any time — and providing regular updates on retiree satisfaction results.

The mark of a best-in-class solution

If offering retiree health benefits has grown too cumbersome, confusing or time-consuming for your company, consider reaching out to a different provider for some guidance. It might be the best thing you’ve ever done for your retirees — and for you.

Mercer offers a high-touch experience for retirees transitioning to an individual healthcare plan.

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