Cowley County commissioners heard a presentation by Trent Nichols, of insurance brokers USI Services, on county health insurance options at their Tuesday meeting.
The presentation was the first step in studying the benefits of keeping health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas or going after another insurer.
The county uses the insurance broker because it is a self-insuring entity. The broker has to keep the county aware of what is going on in the insurance industry and it has to sell the county to potential insurance providers.
According to a chart provided by USI, cost of insurance to the county itself in 2016-17 was $1,712,348; in 2020-21 that cost was $1,741,528.
“We’ve managed to keep that cost to the county flat,” county administrator Lucas Goff said. “We’re following what the commissioners want — not to raise taxes.”
At the same time, county employee costs for health insurance and benefits have been reduced. According to commissioner Alan Groom, the BCBS insurance now used by the county is much more expensive than what the county had before and does not offer the same benefits as the previous insuraer.
Now that it is time to discuss health insurance renewal, the commissioners asked USI to study county employees’ use of their insurance to see if there is a better fit for the county and an insurance provider. The county renews insurance not at the new year but Aug. 1.
The USI representative analyzed the employees’ insurance usage then presented several options of other possible insurers and their prices and benefits to give the commissioners an idea of what is available to mitigate insurance costs.
USI will present several choices at the next commission meeting on April 19, from which the commissioners can choose an insurer, either BCBS or another company.