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Thomas A. Sondergeld, Senior Director of Health & Well-Being, Walgreen Co.

photo of Thomas A. Sondergeld

Audio: Tom Sondergeld on the top recruiting challenge in 2015 and how to overcome it.

In late 2011, the Walgreen's HR team began to consider using a private health insurance exchange—at some point in the future. However, Senior Director of Health & Well-Being Thomas A. Sondergeld says, after reviewing how carriers in the exchange could offer superior value to what they could provide on their own, the HR team accelerated the process. The team discussed key design features with top company leaders and with Aon Hewitt and the multiple carriers on Aon’s private exchange.

Teams from Walgreens and Aon built a robust implementation and communication plan, and the transition to Aon’s private exchange was set for January 2014. During the active enrollment period, over 145,000 Walgreens team members made online elections through the company’s internally branded Live Well Benefits Store.—John Scorza

Reaching the Decision

The rationale for the decision to transition was based on three key principles:

  • Give team members the ability to personalize their health care needs across a wide spectrum of choices;
  • Provide an outsourced solution with state-of-the-art decision tools and resources for a diverse workforce;
  • Reset the overall cost of the plan and share the current and future savings with team members.

His Advice

Carefully consider your options and carefully assess the features of each of them. If you’ve seen one exchange, you’ve seen one exchange.

How He’s Making a Difference

No benefit change makes everyone happy. However, when we hear positive stories, we know we are providing some level of choice for our team members that is helpful for them. This has been a change that’s presented some challenges at times, and we’re learning how to continue to educate our workforce on how to become good shoppers of health care insurance and not just health care itself.


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