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Aon Hewitt Survey Shows Most Employers Considering Move Towards Exchange-Based Individual Market Strategies For Retiree Medical Programs

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill., Sept. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Driven by changes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), most employers are reevaluating their retiree health care strategy and are considering implementing strategies that open access to the individual Medicare plan market through health care exchanges, according to a new survey by Aon Hewitt, the global human resources solutions business of Aon plc. (NYSE: AON).

According to Aon Hewitt's 2012 survey of almost 450 private and public plan sponsors representing 5.8 million retirees, 6 in 10 employers have reviewed or are currently reviewing their retiree health care strategies and are considering alternatives in order to leverage opportunities created by the PPACA.

Of those employers planning changes,63 percent are currently implementing or are considering moving towards an individual market strategy, where they would leverage a health exchange partnership. Aon Hewitt estimates that approximately two-thirds of Medicare-eligible retirees in the U.S. are already enrolled in a Medicare plan through the individual market.

"With the Supreme Court ruling largely upholding the PPACA, plan sponsors have the opportunity to reassess their role as a provider of retiree health care benefits and consider changes that will better position their retiree health care programs for the future," said John Grosso, health care actuary and leader of the Aon Hewitt Retiree Health Care sub-practice. ""The combination of changes to the Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage programs, along with the choice, competition and generally favorable rating rules, have made the individual market very cost-effective compared to the group insurance program. We expect that there will be a similar opportunity for pre-Medicare retirees beginning in 2014."

Aon Hewitt's survey found that 65 percent of plan sponsors said they will at least consider leveraging an exchange strategy for their pre-Medicare retirees some time after 2013, with or without a subsidy, in order to take advantage of the opportunities created through new state-sponsored health care exchanges and additional PPACA market reforms.

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