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Editorial: Meet the top benefits managers of 2015


Creativity coupled with boldness can produce outstanding results when benefits plans are revamped. As is demonstrated by the award winners profiled in this issue of Business Insurance, innovative benefits managers can make a significant difference for their organizations and fellow employees.

The 2015 Benefit Manager of the Year®, Bonnie C. Sawdey, has made a big difference at her employer, Crawford & Co. Faced with double-digit health care cost increases, the claims management company needed to act quickly to overhaul its health care benefits program. A consumer-driven health care plan was the solution, but Crawford wanted to implement it without over-burdening its employees with excessive cost shifting.

In less than a year, Ms. Sawdey was able to develop a program that cut Crawford's health care costs, lowered employees' premiums and changed employees' usage of health care services, yet maintained the quality of the company's benefits offerings.

Our 2015 Benefit Management Honor Roll® members also achieved some outstanding results as they revamped their organizations' benefits programs.

Kari A. Aikins at Western Kentucky University also implemented significant health care plan changes at her employer in months rather than years. Replacing the university's traditional preferred provider organization health plans with a suite of plans that offered enough choice to meet the needs of the workforce took a broad vision and ability to work quickly and decisively.

Our third honoree, Marty Webb of AT&T Inc., oversees a department that administers benefits plans covering more than 1 million people. Bringing about changes that included a massive shifting of retirees to a private health insurance exchange and the introduction of a wellness plan that's appropriate for the lifestyles of all employees was a task that required exceptional organizational and communications skills.

Congratulations to our 2015 honorees. We hope you enjoy reading the full details of their achievements in the profiles that begin on page 16.