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For the second time in two weeks, county commissioners’ chambers overflowed with county employees awaiting the fate of a proposed wellness plan.
The wellness plan made its second appearance on the commissioners’ agenda Monday night after commissioners tabled the matter at their May 19 meeting.
This time a decision was reached.
The wellness program with Living Well Health Solutions would be optional for the first year, but the program’s success depends on employee participation, commissioners chairman Bill Sue said.
“The first year is strictly voluntary. If we don’t get 85 percent by the end of the next fiscal year, it will be mandatory, and people who don’t participate pay,” he said.
“And we’re all trying to do this for the betterment of county employees,” Sue said.
The wellness program first made waves two weeks ago when Sgt. Mark Trull, a Brunswick County Sheriff’s deputy, told commissioners employees opposed the wellness program, saying information about the program had been withheld from employees.
Trull said he was speaking for the sheriff’s office employees because there were, “numerous employees of this office who do not feel they have the right to talk to administration or commissioners.”
Trull said employees were concerned they would be penalized for not participating in the wellness program. When the wellness program was first presented to commissioners, a $40 per month discount was proposed for employee participation.
But Trull said county employees saw it as a $480 per year penalty for not participating.
Employees were also concerned about Living Well receiving employees’ insurance claims history from the past two years, he said.
While county manager Marty Lawing said the employees’ history was necessary for Living Well to develop employees’ individual wellness plans, commissioners opted to make releasing claims information optional.
After employees’ concerns were raised at the last meeting, commissioners tabled the matter, instructing Lawing to provide more information to employees.
Last Tuesday, a representative from Living Well was at the county complex answering questions and presenting information, Lawing said.
“They brought someone in, held meetings all day long, and made a very concerted effort to answer any questions,” Trull said after the daylong session last week.
“We voiced concerns and they took action,” Trull said.
“Whether or not we agree 100 percent, they made the effort.”
After the commissioners’ decision, Trull said he was satisfied with the outcome.
“I’m very pleased with the actions they took last night. They took into our concerns and we’re all very pleased, and I actually look forward to participating in the program,” he said.
While commissioners voted on a compromise for the wellness plan, the employees’ health insurance plan was tabled. A date was not set for the employees’ insurance plan, but county attorney Huey Marshall said the insurance plan had to be voted on before the beginning of the fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“They’ve been upfront with what they’ve been trying to do,” Trull said of proposed changes to employee health insurance.
The proposed renewal for health insurance includes a 14 percent increase to the health premium, which Lawing said an independent consultant said “was a good renewal based on claims.”
Employees’ insurance claims were “increasing rapidly,” Lawing told commissioners.
Proposed changes to the employees’ health insurance includes the following:
•Changes proposed in the PPO plan include an increase to the specialist co-pay to $40 from $30; an increase in the in-network deductible to $500 from $250; retail prescription co-pay would change to $10-35-50 from $10-25-40; preventative care would remain at 100 percent.
•Changes in the HMO plan include an PCP co-pay increase to $20 from $10; establish an in-network deductible of $250 and an in-network out-of-pocket of $2,000; in-network lab services changes from 100 percent to 90 percent; vision exam deductible increases to $20 from $10.
•No changes are proposed to the dental plan.
Caroline Curran is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org