Wilkes-Barre official questions hidden fees in insurance contract [The Citizens’ Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.] – InsuranceNewsNet

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Oct. 12 – WILKES-BARRE – A city councilwoman wants questions about the compensation of a broker who brokered a deal for city employees’ health insurance before voting on the contract Thursday.

While presenting to the council the points on the agenda of the mayor George Brownabsent from Tuesday’s working session for a personal family obligation, municipal administrator Charles McCormick asked the board to approve an agreement with Highmark to provide health insurance in 2023 at a cost of $7,808,920.

McCormick said the amount was about 3.2% higher than this year’s health insurance premium. He presented Bill Joyceof Joyce Insurance — Risk Strategies, which the administration retained as brokers to review proposals from insurance companies that responded to the city’s health insurance RFP.

Joyce said the administration asked her company to issue a request for proposals in early June.

“We received two proposals that matched and that we believe would work with the city’s contracts. One was from Bennecon and the other was from Highmark itself,” Joyce said. “We went back and forth with Highmark to (reduce) a few hundred thousand dollars from their original offer.”

“What we’d like to do is take a couple of different things that Risk Strategies, which we represent now, does with data analysis, claims analysis, trends, wellness, gaps in coverage and more or less keeping tabs on where your claims are at,” he said, adding that Risk Strategies would provide a quarterly report.

Joyce Insurance Group is now part of Risk Strategies, a national brokerage firm providing comprehensive insurance and risk management advisory services, according to Joyce’s website.

“We think they’re doing a great job with that. They probably represent 100 different municipalities across the country,” Joyce said.

President of the Board Beth Gilbert McBride asked why the board was being asked to vote on a health insurance deal this year and if anything was different this year.

McCormick said the current contract expires at the end of the year and the administration wanted to give the board enough time to approve it.

“Last year, if I remember correctly, some people expressed interest and we interviewed them. This year we decided that it was probably best to have someone with insurance experience and the information needed to conduct these kinds of negotiations directly,” said McCormick. .

McBride said she doesn’t think the council ever voted on a deal for city employee health insurance.

City Attorney and Deputy Administrator Tim Henry said that if health insurance agreements had not been brought to the board in the past, it was “probably just an oversight”.

McBride asked if there was a breakdown of the fees included in the proposal. McCormick said there were none, at least none that Highmark presented to the administration.

McBride asked if the contract included services offered by Risk Strategies.

McCormick said no, adding that the administration had not established the amount of work and the types of services Risk Strategies would provide, if any.

“They just offered all these potential services. Whether the city takes them or not is up to the administration,” McCormick said.

After the meeting, McBride said the administration bringing the health insurance deal to the board for approval “raised a red flag for me,” and she wondered if Joyce’s involvement warranted it “because it there is a kind of commission”.

“The administration does not have a breakdown of the costs. But, obviously, Joyce Insurance don’t do this for nothing. If it’s called a fee or a commission, I don’t know how they phrase it, but that cost would be passed on, I assume, to the employee and/or taxpayers,” McBride said. “I hope the administration is coming.”

McBride plans to email a commission request Wednesday morning.

Contact the author:

[email protected] 570-821-2110, @MocarskyCV

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