Rachael Van Horn
Woodward, Okla. —
Woodward County Commissioners pulled the trigger on a new health insurance provider for county employees during Monday's marathon meeting.
The action was taken after a nearly two hour meeting in which Ross Naylor of McElroy and Associates gave a detailed presentation of benefit coverage through Oklahoma Public Employees Health.
At present, Woodward County employees are enrolled into the Employee Group Insurance Division's plan through the state's self insurance program with Health Choice.
Woodward County Commissioners made the decision to switch providers because of several improvements the new plan, offered through Blue Cross Blue Shield, provides workers.
For instance, county workers, who under the current system would pay about $912 per month to insure a spouse and one child with the top echelon health plan called "HealthChoice High", according to the rate sheet published on the Employee Group Insurance Division official website.
In this plan, dental and vision would cost about $35 on top of the health insurance premium, according to the rate sheet.
Under the new company - OPEH&W - county workers would pay about $634 for a child and spouse for a comparable plan and that premium includes comparable dental and vision plans.
"I like that our employees could afford to cover their families now," said District 1 Commissioner Tommy Roedell.
Roedell also liked the idea that when the county becomes a member of OPEH&W, one of its elected officials serves on the insurance board, which meets four times per year, Naylor said. That makes one of Woodward's own a part of any claim dispute appeal that may have to be decided by the board.
"I like that we have a voice," Roedell said.
The commissioners also believe the prescription coverage, which has no formulary that tells patients what they will and will not pay for, is an added benefit.
Harper, Ellis, Cimarron and Texas Counties have all enrolled in OPEH&W, according to Naylor.
After questions from every management level employee were satisfied, Roedell moved that the county change companies and begin the process to immediately notify Employees Group Insurance Division with the state that they will not be renewing.
The law states the county must give the outgoing insurance company 60 days notice, Naylor said.
Commissioners plan for the new insurance to take effect November 1, 2013.
According to Naylor, any employees who have already built up paid deductible through their present company, will be allowed to carry that deductible over to the new insurance company and it will be honored.
Also, the plan year for the new insurance goes from July through June 31st instead of January through December, which allows a longer time for transitioning employees to utilize already paid deductible, Naylor said.
For more information about the new coverage, employees can access the plan and what it covers by going to WWW.OPEHW.COM.
In other business, commissioners approved routine purchase orders as well as approving and signing a letter from the Woodward Board of County Commissioners which allows the Woodward County Health Department to enter into contracts with certain vendors without having to consult the board each time, they said.