published Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Business Briefcase: T-Mobile cuts 7 call centers

T-Mobile cuts 7 call centers

Three months after federal regulators shot down a proposed merger with AT&T, the telephone giant T-Mobile USA Inc. announced plans last week to shut down seven of its 24 call centers.

T-Mobile will keep open its 600-employee center in Chattanooga and may add more employees to the Lee Highway complex. But the company will close similar call centers in Allentown, Penn.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Frisco and Brownsville, Texas; Lenexa, Kan.; Thornton, Colo.; and Redmond, Ore.

The shuttered centers collectively employed 3,300 employees. But T-Mobile said in a statement it plans to hire 1,400 extra people at its 17 remaining call centers, including Chattanooga.

The call center consolidation is part of a restructuring T-Mobile announced in February after AT&T had to withdraw its purchase offer and pay T-Mobile $3 billion in breakup fees and also transfer some spectrum licenses to T-Mobile.

United adds app to better health

UnitedHealthcare is adding a new mobile app, Health4Me, to make it easier for its plan participants to take more control of their health. Now available for the Apple iPhone and iPad -- and coming to the Android this spring -- Health4Me brings health information and contacts to people on the go.

The free mobile app provides access to a registered nurse, enables users to locate a nearby in-network physician, hospital or other medical facility, and gives access to personal health benefits information. An "Easy Connect" feature lets users select the type of questions they have about their claims and benefits, and request a callback on their mobile device from a UnitedHealthcare customer service representative.

"Health4Me makes navigating health care easier for our 26 million plan participants and puts key information, including health and wellness tools, right in the palms of their hands," company CEO Jeff Alter said in a statement.

Unum CEO speaks to Senate panel

Unum Corp. CEO Tom Watjen last week told a Senate panel in Washington, D.C., that private, employer-sponsored disability insurance coverage like that offered by his company saves taxpayers up to $4.5 billion a year.

Watjen said a typical worker is three times more likely to become disabled than to die before retirement. But far more workers have life insurance than income protection insurance in the event of a disabling injury or illness, Watjen said.

"Our experience is that the lack of awareness of the risk of disability and the affordable ways to insure against the risk are the biggest impediments to more Americans being protected," Watjen said in a statement to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Spring Hill makes 3 million engines

General Motors' powertrain plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., produced its 3 millionth Ecotec engine last week.

The engines will power the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco.

Similar engines built at the plant are for the Chevrolet Equinox crossover, the Buick Regal sport sedan, the Buick Verano sedan and the GMC Terrain small SUV.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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