Budget Board approves changes to insurance plan for county employees Local News

Like other employers, Payne County wrestles with healthcare costs. Health insurance and other employment benefits can be a significant expense, but they are also crucial.

“Having good employee benefits helps retain good employees,” County Clerk Glenna Craig said.

Due to rising medical costs and higher claims, the county was facing a 15% premium increase from Community Care, its current medical insurance provider in the coming year. Premier Consulting, an insurance broker that works with the county, was able to negotiate a new plan with the same carrier that cut that increase to 9.5%. The trade-off for the new plan approved by the Payne County Budget Board, a body consisting of all elected county officials, is a deductible that increased from $750 to $1,000.

Although other carriers were considered for dental, vision, and life insurance, the board voted to stay with Delta Dental, The Standard Company, and Symetra.

The county pays the cost of coverage for its employees – $835.16 per employee each month for calendar year 2023, Craig said. The employee pays the premium if they add coverage for spouses and dependents.

Employees are also offered additional insurance coverage and a flex health care spending account through payroll deductions. Because of problems with claims at the current company, the Budget Board approved changing the carrier for those programs to AFLAC.

Although the county could participate in a benefit program managed by the Oklahoma Association of County Commissioners, the benefit package negotiated by Premier Consulting is better than the ACCO program, Craig said.

Premier Consulting charges the county a fee for its services, which has previously been paid from the county general fund along with the insurance premiums. But last week, Craig and the rest of the Budget Board approved paying the fees for Premier Consulting from a self-insurance fund supported by county use tax instead of taking it from the county general fund.

During her time in office and on the Budget Board, Craig has been a zealous advocate for preserving a reserve in the county general fund to cover emergencies and unexpected expenses.

The Payne County Board of Commissioners formally approved the change by a resolution at Monday’s meeting.

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