County Commission hears plans to save money on health insurance

Published 8:22 am Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Sequoyah Group gave the results of its initial health insurance investigation during Monday’s County Commission meeting, and the results were enough to bring the whole room into applause.

Representative Kelly Geer discussed possible savings they could achieve by modifying their current plan, which could result in savings of over $200,000.

“My grandfather was a county commissioner for seven years,” Geer said. “It means something to me to bring you good news.”

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The Sequoyah Group brought forth several different options for health insurance, saying they “pitted them against each other” in order to get competitive pricing to show the commission.

Geer said there were several areas where the county could save money without detracting coverage for participants, including the deductible.

“This is why I said you guys are over-insured,” Geer said about the deductible. “139 members out of 350 have zero towards their deductible. But yet we are paying for a $500 deductible.”

Out of the members who were paying into the deductible, Geer said only about 6 percent actually met the deductible.

Among the options Geer presented were ways to improve on the county’s existing Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan and a plan with Cigna. While Blue Cross/Blue Shield presented a 10 percent decrease on their current contract and Cigna presented a 20 percent decrease, Geer said to not simply end the process here.

“We promised you all we would give you the data,” she said. “Take the small step in changing this.”

Commissioners were impressed with the initial results.

“Thank you for rolling back the curtain and showing us how the insurance sausage is made,” Commissioner Mike Hill said. “This is why we need to question everything, no matter how uncomfortable it may get. […] God bless you, ma’am, we just improved the living situation for 100 percent of the county’s employees.”

Later, during the Budget Committee’s presentation, Commissioner Ross Garland laid forth their original motion to continue working with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, but the commission voted all in favor to amend the motion to go with the Sequoyah Group’s recommendation once they obtained more information, with Willie Campbell, Patty Woodby, Isaiah Grindstaff, Layla Ward and Aaron Frazier abstaining from the vote. Not in attendance for the vote were Bradley Johnson, Jerry Proffitt, Randall Jenkins and Ray Lyons.

Whichever the commission decides to go with will go into effect July 1, meaning the decision will come to another vote during the next commission meeting Monday, June 17.