New Program to Provide Medical Benefit for Early Retirees

June 25, 2007 ( - HR Policy Association has announced an agreement with Aetna Inc. to offer a retiree medical plan that will not only cover post-65 retirees but will also cover pre-65 retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare.

According to the announcement, beginning January 1, 2008, participating companies in the Association will be able to offer their retirees access to comprehensive, guarantee issue health benefits through the Retiree Health Access program. Retirees will qualify for coverage regardless of their health status or their employer’s level of premium contribution.

“With Retiree Health Access, we tried a different approach to health care reform – help the marketplace understand what the consumer wants instead of settling for what is currently on the shelf. We’ve definitely had a breakthrough by getting a guarantee from Aetna that all retirees can get access to comprehensive insurance regardless of health status,” said Jeffrey C. McGuiness, President of HR Policy Association, in the announcement.

Other features of the new program include:

  • Fully insured solutions: Aetna has agreed to bear the risk of Retiree Health Access through a fully insured arrangement.
  • Flexible employer contribution: Retiree Health Access is available to retirees of participating employers regardless of how much their employer contributes to their premiums.
  • Comprehensive administrative support: Retiree Health Access allows employers to take advantage of comprehensive administrative support, minimizing resources that employers would need to provide retiree benefits while giving retirees all the support that they need.
  • Built in incentives for aggressive disease management: Because Retiree Health Access is being offered as a fully insured product, Aetna bears the insurance risk and has a direct incentive to aggressively promote effective disease management and healthy lifestyle decisions among enrolled retirees.

According to a New York Times article about the program, McGuiness said for the program’s first year, no more than about 20 of HR Policy Association’s member companies are expected to offer the new health coverage, but many others are considering joining for 2009.

HR Policy Association is comprised of senior human resource executives representing nearly every major industry group in the U.S. Companies represented include General Electric, IBM, and UPS. Their Web site is .