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J.C. Penney employees access all benefits with Web-based portal


J.C. Penney Co. Inc. provides one-stop shopping for employees with questions about any of their company benefits.

Using a single sign-on for Web-based portal called Powerline, employees can check their 401(k) balances, apply for 401(k) loans, find out how much of their health care deductibles have been met, read articles about ways to take better care of their health or report the need to take time off from work.

The portal, launched in 2009, was built by and is administered by Aon Hewitt, fed with data from J.C. Penney's PeopleSoft-powered human resources information system. Powerline connects Aon Hewitt, which administers J.C. Penney's health and welfare and retirement plans; UnitedHealth Group Inc., which administers the company's lifestyle and medical management systems; Express Scripts Inc., J.C. Penney's pharmacy benefit manager; and Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc., which administers the retailer's total absence management program.

The portal also has benefit guides that include summary plan descriptions and health plan tools, such as drug cost comparisons and provider directories. Employees use it to enroll in their benefits at open enrollment and to complete their health risk assessments, apply for a 401(k) loan or get their prescriptions filled. There's even a Web chat feature for employees who have simple questions that don't need the level of assistance provided by call center advocates.

J.C. Penney employees “go to one place and they are able to access all of the information they need surrounding their benefits,” said Anita Fulton, vice president of benefits at Aon Hewitt based in Lincolnshire, Ill. “We also have the ability to provide links directly into the Sedgwick system so participants can get their case status” if they are on leave or disability.

“We're also doing links in the medical space to the carrier website, where they complete their personal health assessment. It's a seamless experience,” she said.

In 2012, Powerline was upgraded to provide special “tier 2” assistance to employees who need additional help addressing certain life events, such as a death in the family, applying for retirement benefits or taking a hardship withdrawal from the 401(k) plan.

“We can do a warm transfer to a tier 2 call center advocate who will serve as a guide, walking them through their benefits,” Ms. Fulton said.

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