Elevating Retiree Care: An HR Director's Journey with RetireeFirst

By: Joey Lopez, Director of Human Resources, City of Baytown

In my capacity as the Director of Human Resources for the City of Baytown in Texas, my responsibilities include a wide array of functions, including overseeing talent acquisition, talent management and training, employee relations, risk/safety, as well as benefits and compensation. Among these diverse duties, a particularly meaningful aspect of my role centers around managing the retiree benefits program, which caters to the needs of more than 200 retirees who have dedicated their lives to serving our city.

Our retiree group paints a picture of diversity, representing an array of roles within the city. From fire fighters and police officers to wastewater professionals, equipment operators, parks, caretakers, and librarians, our retirees have contributed significantly to the various facets of our community’s well-being. This diverse range of positions has enriched our city, and we are committed to ensuring that their transition into retirement is as smooth as possible. My team and I share a unified goal – ensuring that our retirees maintain a strong connection with our city even after stepping back from their active roles.

Our mission, which I fondly refer to as “our heart,” revolves around ensuring that retirees continue to feel connected to our city through the services we provide in retirement. Achieving this involves consistent and meaningful communication. We engage with our retirees through emails, letters, and in-person meetings to nurture a sense of community that transcends retirement. This approach resonates well with retirees spanning ages 45 to 90, as they appreciate the ongoing connection we provide.

A Transformative Partnership with RetireeFirst

Our journey with RetireeFirst began in 2018, sparked by a referral from our benefits broker. During the initial interactions, one statistic stood out – RetireeFirst has 100% client retention rate. This achievement underscored their commitment to excellence, aligning perfectly with our values.

RetireeFirst’s unwavering support and tailored solutions have been instrumental in ensuring the well-being of our retirees. Beyond their comprehensive expertise in Medicare, they share our vision of preserving retiree healthcare. Their proactive approach and personalized advocacy reinforce retirees’ confidence in their post-retirement journey, effectively easing their transition into this new phase of life.

In 2019, we transitioned from Medicare Supplement to a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plan. Dealing with change can be tough, especially when it comes to retiree benefits. When we first joined forces with RetireeFirst, retirees were skeptical about the changes, and worried about their benefits. But the way RetireeFirst handled the transition was impressive. They didn’t just roll out the new plan; they came down to meet us in person. These meetings eased the retirees’ concerns because together we educated them about their benefits, assured them that they weren’t going away, and letting them know that this was an enhancement.

Today, our retirees often express their appreciation for RetireeFirst’s dedicated advocates. Unlike the labyrinthine of automated phone systems, RetireeFirst offers a single point of contact. This personal connection resonates with our retirees, affirming that their questions and concerns are being taken care of by a dedicated advocate. At the City, our goal is to make it simple and seamless for retirees to access the care they need, especially after dedicating their lives to the city. It’s a way we honor their commitment. Our missions are aligned.

My ongoing experience with RetireeFirst’s client services has been consistently positive. The seamless internal communication with their account management team has proven invaluable and they are an extension of the Human Resources team. This experience has solidified our partnership and strengthened our collaboration.

When it comes to overall service offerings and options, I’ve been truly impressed with RetireeFirst’s approach. The choices they present are strong and with their solid relationships with carriers, we’re given the opportunity to pick the best options that suit our needs. Our renewals have been consistently smooth, and what stands out is the additional value they bring to the table. Over the years, they’ve continuously introduced enhancements that have elevated our benefits, adding services we didn’t have when we started. This level of commitment to enhancing their offering shows their dedication to our satisfaction and their continuous pursuit of excellence.

In sharing our experience, my hope is that other Human Resources professionals in similar roles find inspiration and assurance in partnering with RetireeFirst. Together, we can create a retirement journey that honors the dedication of employees, fosters their well-being, and sustains their connection to the organizations they’ve served.

Joey is based in and works for the City of Baytown, TX, a City located 26 miles east of Houston, TX, which services 80,000 residents. Joey has served in the City of Baytown’s Human Resource department for over 13 years. He is a second-generation City worker and public servant following in the footsteps of his father. In his spare time Joey enjoys spending quality time with his wife and children and rooting for his alma mater, the University of Houston.

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