County selects new broker for health insurance

Published 8:22 pm Thursday, April 2, 2015

Carter County will have a new health insurance broker when the new fiscal year rolls around.

Members of the Financial Management Committee decided on a split vote to switch the county’s health insurance broker from Blountville-based Triten Insurance and Financial Services to Mark III Employee Benefits of Johnson City.

In recent months, the committee decided to request proposals from insurance companies regarding brokerage services. Although there have been no issues or problems with Triten Insurance or its services, County Finance Director Ingrid Deloach said she felt the county should review other options to make sure the county is getting the best value and service possible.

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Last month, the committee reviewed proposals submitted by the county and held a workshop session to allow the different brokerage companies to present their services to the group. On Wednesday, the committee discussed their opinions on the proposals and what the county should do.

“I’ve always felt if the system is not broke, don’t try to fix it,” Chairman Ray Lyons said.

Some members of the committee felt the review process came too late in the year to be fair to the county’s current broker, who has been working on negotiating insurance rates.

“It seems a little late in the year to change brokers,” Bobbie Gouge-Dietz said. “I think we should stay with who have and next year look at changing if we want to.”

That opinion was echoed by Danny Ward. “I think we need to start earlier in the year on this process,” he said.

Carter County’s insurance negotiations would not be impacted by a change in brokers, County Mayor Leon Humphrey said, adding he had received assurances from the insurance brokers to that effect.

“We have an opportunity to work with a firm that may give us an even higher level of service,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey made a motion to go with Mark III for the county’s health insurance broker, noting the company already worked as broker for other insurances held by the county. That motion failed due a lack of a second.

When asked for her opinion, Deloach said she would not make a recommendation for a broker, but added she felt the proposal by Mark III was the best one the county received.

“If nothing else, it at least opened our eyes as to what we can get whether we want it or not,” Deloach said. “It’s not just your insurance rate that your broker provides – that is part of it, but it’s a very small part.”

The county’s insurance broker also provides member services such as helping employees enroll or change coverage and also helps make sure the county stays in compliance with state and federal laws.

“With the Affordable Care Act we have to get the best we can get because there are so many rules and regulations,” Deloach said.

After additional discussion, Humphrey once again made the motion that Mark III Employee Benefits be selected as the county’s health insurance broker. The motion received a second from Charles Von Cannon and ultimately passed on a vote by a margin of 4-2 with one abstention.

Lyons, Humphrey, Von Cannon and Roger Colbaugh voted in favor of selecting Mark III while Ward and Gouge-Dietz opposed. Director of Carter County Schools Kevin Ward abstained from the vote, saying he had not been able to attend the workshop and felt he did not have enough information to vote either way on the issue.