Dueling insurance brokers were the focus of the Payne County Budget Board meeting on Monday.

The budget board is a body comprised of elected county officials who make financial decisions for county government. Cary Taylor, with Premier Consulting Partners, appeared first on the agenda. Taylor reminded the board that his company has been designated as the insurance broker for Payne County since they signed a contract in 2013.

He said he was surprised to learn that the board was considering other health insurance options since he appeared before the board on July 8 to provide updates on insurance plans for county employees. At that meeting, Taylor advised the board that he was working on early enrollment for the next calendar year and the Sept. 9 budget board meeting was targeted to discuss early enrollment for health, life, and disability insurance.

Taylor said following the July meeting, he believed the health insurance provider would remain Community Care because the board seemed to be satisfied with the coverage provided by that insurer. His company had been negotiating with Community Care, he said.

Based upon Taylor’s review of the budget board agenda, he said he was going to “pull our efforts with Community Care off the table and do a full market submission.” That would result in a delay and a special meeting might be necessary for the budget board to consider early enrollment for the next calendar year, he said.

At the July 8 meeting, Taylor had advised the board of the need to find a different life insurance carrier other than Prudential Life Insurance.

Taylor said he received a phone call last Friday afternoon about insurance rates for Payne County’s employees. Unless he had a written directive from the budget board, he would not release that information, he said.

Chairman Chris Reding, said representatives from other insurance companies were on the Budget Board’s agenda because at the recent Association of County Commissioners safety conference, they had said they could beat the county’s existing insurance rates by 10%.

Reding said he didn’t want to undercut the work of Premier Consulting, but he wanted to hear what they had to say.

District 1 Commissioner Zach Cavett said he had also been approached at the safety conference meeting about finding the best insurance available for county employees.

Reding said he did not realize the parties contacting him were insurance brokers and not representatives from insurance companies.

Ty Lawson, with American Trustee, Inc., addressed the board concerning life insurance. Under questioning from County Clerk, Glenna Craig, Lawson acknowledged that his company was an insurance broker. Lawson also said that his company had advised the commissioners at the safety conference that his firm could save the county 10% on its insurance rates.

Lawson said he wanted to focus on the One America Plan to provide employer paid term life insurance. Taylor asked why his firm could not go to One America for an insurance quote and Lawson acknowledged that he could, but said that American Trustee, “as broker of record,” could get a better rate.

On motion from Craig, the budget board required American Trustee to submit a life insurance quote to Premier Consulting to review and present to the board for approval.

The next presenter was Ross Naylor, who drew laughter when he announced that he was not an insurance broker. Naylor, Vice President for OPEH&W Health Plan, advised the board that his company was an Oklahoma public trust owned by participating governmental entities, such as counties, municipalities, and other local units of government, including the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma. He said the trust was created the year following the creation of Healthchoice, which provides health benefits for state workers.

Naylor said 30 counties in Oklahoma were participating in his health plan.

OPEH&W plans were the same for all participating employees across the state, Naylor said. The public trust offers Diamond, Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze plans with decreasing amounts of premiums and coverage.

Naylor advised the budget board that his company had three years within the last ten years where they had not had a rate increase in health coverage premiums. As a public trust, OPEH&W doesn’t use insurance brokers and is different from insurance companies, “therefore we don’t have a commission percentage, to come out of our fee or rate” he said.

On questioning from Craig about the relationship with Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Naylor said, “we rent their network. So it is our benefit design, we pay the claims.”

A Blue Cross and Blue Shield card is provided to the covered employee and the claims are processed by Blue Cross and Blue Shield with no additional paperwork required by OPEH&W. Naylor said the coverage under his company is superior to any other coverage available through Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

His public trust would need claims data to verify that Payne County does not impose a significant risk to the pool, he said. He added that the data requested "does not affect the rates you have.”

No action was taken by the budget board on the presentation from Naylor.

In regular business, the budget board approved the Treasurer’s cash appropriations report previously approved by the Board of County Commissioners. The board approved payment from sales tax proceeds for the purchase of scales to be used by the Sheriff’s department to enforce road weight limits on county roads across the county.

The board also discussed reinstating a Christmas Party for all county employees. Further planning is needed by the board to schedule and have the party.