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Ohio Public Employees Retirement System Selects a Towers Watson Company to Administer OPERS Medicare Connector

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The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) has selected Extend Health, Inc., a Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) company, to deliver and manage a private Medicare exchange, or connector, for its 145,000 Medicare-eligible retirees and spouses beginning in 2016. The OPERS Medicare Connector will use Towers Watson’s OneExchange (formerly the Extend Health Medicare exchange) to provide retirees with access to plans on the individual Medicare market, one of several changes adopted by OPERS to offer more health care plan choices at affordable prices.

Extend Health became a Towers Watson company in 2012. Towers Watson’s OneExchange is the nation’s largest and longest-standing private Medicare exchange. OPERS, with $88.6 billion in assets, is the largest public pension fund in Ohio and the 11th-largest public pension fund in the United States.

“For months, we’ve been telling our retirees about the OPERS Medicare Connector concept, and working with Towers Watson makes it a reality,” said OPERS Executive Director Karen Carraher. “OPERS’ current and future Medicare-eligible retirees will save money and will have a wider selection of health care programs from which to choose.”

The OPERS Medicare Connector will go live for OPERS retirees in the fall of 2015 for the plan year 2016. Participants will be able to select, purchase and enroll in Medicare Advantage or a Medigap plan, and a Part D prescription drug plan. OneExchange licensed benefit advisors will provide retirees with one-on-one consultations to help them find plans that are right for them based on their needs and budget. Eligible retirees will receive a monthly allowance through a health reimbursement account (HRA) for paying premiums and other qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses. Retirees can also select dental and vision plans through the Connector, and use HRA funds to purchase them, or continue to select the OPERS group dental and vision plans.

OPERS announced a transition to a private Medicare connector in 2012 as part of a series of changes to preserve its retiree health care coverage for the future.

“We knew we needed an outside company to help administer the Connector, and Towers Watson has a proven track record of success,” Carraher said. “Our retirees are going to have the opportunity to select the Medicare plan that best suits their individual needs, and they’re going to have an expert stand with them and help them make those choices. They’ll also have the reassurance that OPERS will be behind the Connector, and will work to ensure responsiveness and peace of mind.”

Towers Watson’s OneExchange for Medicare-eligible individuals offers thousands of private Medicare plans from more than 90 top national and regional health insurers. Licensed benefit advisors and online decision support provide personalized guidance to retirees. The exchange is fully integrated electronically with its carrier partners, which speeds enrollment and ongoing administration. More than 1,100 employers have adopted OneExchange, which serves hundreds of thousands of retirees as well as part-time and full-time active employees.

“Public pension funds across the country are seeking sustainable ways to protect the financial futures of their retirees,” said Towers Watson Managing Director Bryce Williams. “We commend Ohio for being a national leader in ensuring its retirees access to more comprehensive and affordable health plan options, and for its commitment to making the transition as smooth as possible.”

ABOUT OPERS

With $88.6 billion in assets, OPERS is the largest public pension fund in Ohio and the 11th-largest public pension fund in the United States. OPERS provides retirement, disability and survivor benefits for more than 1 million public employees. OPERS can be found on the web at OPERS.org.

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 consulting, technology and solutions in the areas of benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Towers Watson has more than 14,000 associates around the world and is located on the web at towerswatson.com.

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