When the AOI HealthChoice group health insurance program added Samaritan Health Plans as a provider partner last year, it opened up a number of new options for agents working with the plan. One agent who has taken full advantage of the program’s expansion has been Kristi Hart of Corvallis based Barker-Uerlings Insurance, Inc. Kristi is a Sr. Vice President at Barker-Uerlings and she specializes in Life and Health insurance.
"Bringing in Samaritan Health Plans as a new partner really did broaden the appeal of the HealthChoice option,” says Hart. “Samaritan has some excellent plan designs, which has kept AOI HealthChoice very competitive.”
In addition to the expansion of options Samaritan Health Plans brings to HealthChoice, this particular partner brings additional benefits to AOI and its members.
“Samaritan is a name people have come to trust when it comes to health care,” says Kristi. “That’s especially true in the core regions of Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties.”
The agency Hart works for, Barker-Uerlings, has been an important advocate for the growth and development of the AOI HealthChoice program. Like Samaritan, the agency has a well-earned reputation for quality service and innovation. They’ve been serving customers throughout the entire Pacific Northwest since 1911 and many of the businesses they insure are into second and third generations with them.
Barker-Uerlings is a full service agency with the capability to serve all areas of personal and commercial insurance including:
- Property and Casualty
- Home and Auto
- Workers’ Compensation
- Fidelity and Surety Bonds
- Employee Benefits
- Insurance & Risk Management Consulting
As a full service agency, Barker-Uerlings is familiar with (and a provider of) another of AOI’s membership benefits programs – the SAIF AOI CompSAFE group workers’ compensation insurance plan.
“The growing HealthChoice program is a great addition to the CompSAFE plan,” says Kristi. “We are big supporters and promoters of AOI as an association. We routinely remind our clients there are many more benefits beyond the insurance products available with an AOI membership.”
Offering that extra level of customer service comes naturally to Kristi. She started her health care career in 1991, taking a position with Regence BlueCross/BlueShield of Oregon. While there, Kristi worked in membership and accounting, customer service and marketing. The broad range of experience in these various departments at Regence has proven to be a great asset to Kristi’s clients.
“I can be a liaison between the insurance carrier and their administrative staff and/or employees.” says Hart. “The experience I had at Regence affords me the ability to negotiate the best rate and plan design for my clients.”
After 10 years at Regence, Kristi decided to pursue a career on the broker side of the industry.
“Moving to the broker side of the industry allowed me to build close relationships with my clients,” says Kristi. “My husband grew up in Philomath, so when I was approached by Barker-Uerlings, I felt it was a great opportunity to not only work for a well-respected agency, but it gave us the opportunity to move to the area.”
Kristi has not only been more involved with her clients, she’s become more involved in her community. She’s participated in Leadership of Corvallis, Soroptimist and Rotary clubs, and served on the Board of United Way of Benton and Lincoln Counties. She is currently serving on The Corvallis Independent Business Alliance (CIBA) Board.
One year in with the addition of the Samaritan Health Plans to the options available through AOI HealthChoice, Kristi is optimistic about the program’s future. Kristi was responsible for bringing in between 30 and 35 new groups to new HealthChoice Samaritan plans.
“I know the expectations for the first year of the AOI-Samaritan partnership were conservative, but the market has supported growth beyond initial expectations,” says Kristi. “There’s no reason to believe that we won’t continue to be just as successful.”