05 February 2011

United Health care gains Guardian Life Insurance Co. segment

United Health care gains Guardian Life Insurance Co. segment : Guardian Life Insurance Co.'s decision to drop group medical insurance from its lineup over the next two years will mean job cuts, including some at its Midwest regional office at 2300 E. Capitol Drive.

Richard Jones, a spokesman for New York-based Guardian, said the decision means the loss of 100 positions companywide, but did not disclose how many would be lost in Appleton. These 100 positions are not just in Appleton, but in several locations," he said.

Guardian employs 650 people in Appleton, Jones said. While the decision will mean some job losses, the company will maintain its presence here.

"We have no plans to be out of Appleton," he said.

Jones said the company would work with the affected employees to find other jobs within Guardian.

"We are optimistic that over the two-year timeframe that it takes to wind down the medical business, continued growth in our group nonmedical area and other businesses will create new job opportunities."

Jones said it would take about two years for the company to phase out its group medical insurance business, which will be taken over by Minnesota-based UnitedHealthcare, an insurance services company, which provides coverage to more than 1 million people in Wisconsin.

Gregory Thompson, a spokesman for UnitedHealthcare, said his company has entered an agreement with Guardian to renew medical insurance coverage for those customers.

Maria Gordon Shydlo, a representative for UnitedHealthcare, added Guardian customers could either enroll with UnitedHealthcare at their annual renewal dates or move to a different medical plan.

Guardian announced its plans in late January to exit the group medical insurance business, noting it was no longer a strategic fit, Business Insurance magazine reported. Guardian provides coverage to 42,400 people, representing small- and mid-sized employers.

Guardian plans to focus on its dental, life, disability and vision care coverage lines.

Thompson said his company is prepared to assist Guardian's medical group insurance customers.

"Through UnitedHealthcare, Guardian's members will have access to one of the largest local and national care provider networks in the country," he said. "We will work closely with physicians, hospitals and other health care professionals to ensure a smooth transition."

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