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Indiana transplant finds niche in designing employee health plans

Employee benefits consultant Cher Bumps talks about her career and personal life.
BY PAULA BURKES Published: January 6, 2013

About the time my mother died, he was drafted and we married and moved to Fort Hood, Texas, where we lived two years and I worked as a surgical assistant for a vet clinic.

Following his service, we moved back to Terre Haute, where I worked as a clerk for Columbia Records and we both completed our degrees. After his graduation, we moved to Logansport, Ind., where he joined Wilson Foods.

Q: What brought you to Oklahoma?

A: We were transferred here with Wilson Foods in June '77, with our daughters who were 2 and 3. In Indiana, I'd worked several years as a merchandising manager for J.C. Penney, who found a position here for me.

Q: How did you move into insurance?

A: Our home insurance agent with Connecticut Mutual kept after me to sell life insurance, and I finally relented because the salary, at just 20 hours a week, was more than double what I was making with Penney's working nights and weekends. I started May 1, and figured if it didn't work out, I'd take the summer off with the kids.

I gravitated toward selling to small businesses, because I didn't like the living room route and soon focused on benefits, which most all agents were handling on the side. I incorporated CABA (Cher A. Bumps and Associates) on April 1, 1987, with just two employees. We design creative health plans, using high deductibles, salary-based premiums and other tactics, to save employers, and workers, money. We usually can go in and cut their costs 20 percent, which is a lot of money for most.

Q: What are your thoughts on health care reform?

A: My guess is people will pay 25 percent more for health insurance because, though slightly more will pay for insurance, there still will be plenty of uninsured people. I don't think there's any teeth in the law to make people enroll in coverage.

I think there's a small percentage who can't buy health insurance because of existing health conditions. But most that don't have it, don't want it. Many are irresponsible and don't want to pay for it, even if it's only $20 or $30 a month. One thing that helps our firm is that we offer diversified services: retirement planning, an employee assistance program, Flex/COBRA administration, a benefits portal and HR services. Still, I think there's a lot of uncertainty about what 2014 will bring, after key mandates under Obamacare take effect.


Position: President, Cher A. Bumps and Associates


Birth date: Aug. 14, 1950.

Family: Daughters, Ryanne Frease, of Chicago, Emily Ross, of San Diego; two granddaughters and two grandsons, ages 3 months to 3 years.

Education: Indiana State University, bachelor's in sociology with a minor in French.

Community involvement: A graduate of Leadership Oklahoma City and Leadership Oklahoma, she is a former longtime board member of the Oklahoma City Zoo, Sunbeam Family Services, Impact Oklahoma and the Community Literacy Center.

Pastimes: Traveling (She wants to go to South America and has been to Asia, Africa and Europe, her favorite); reading suspense novels and golfing, especially south of Laguna Beach where she has a vacation home.

What deceased person would you liked to have met? “Mother Teresa. She was so selfless. I felt like she got a bad rap, only a blurb in the news headlines, because she died within a week of Princess Diana.”

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