Insurance proposal would cater to healthier workers

ndunn@newsobserver.comMay 19, 2014 

Proposed changes to the Town of Clayton’s health-insurance program would continue to benefit healthier government workers.

Under a proposal town leaders will consider with the coming year’s budget, Clayton would pay 100 percent of employee insurance premiums. However, workers would face higher co-pays and cost shares if they scored lower on health assessments or didn’t take part in required health programs.

The proposed changes represent the town’s ongoing effort to tweak its Healthy Life Wellness Program, a 2011 initiative town leaders say encourages healthier lifestyles.

“I don’t think anyone will go poor because of what we are doing, but it does promote what we are trying to promote – employee wellness,” Town Manager Steve Biggs told the Town Council on May 5.

The program is designed also to save money. Biggs said compared to the average increase in premiums in recent years, the town saved about $135,000 in insurance costs this fiscal year.

The town spent $849,000 on insurance premiums in 2010-11, $886,000 in 2011-12, $1.02 million in 2012-13 and $1.01 million in 2013-14. With the proposed changes, Clayton would spend about $974,371 next fiscal year, Biggs estimated.

“As we worked to respond to increases, we developed a different approach, which we think is a refinement of the original program,” Biggs said.

Clayton workers who use the town’s insurance plan must receive a physical and visit the dentist at least once a year. Employees must also complete an online health assessment, which provides feedback about their overall lifestyle and how it might affect their health, said Stacy Beard, Clayton’s public information officer.

The town also conducts an annual biometric screening, which gauges blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and Body Mass Index, among other indicators. In addition, Clayton hosts various information sessions throughout the year for its employees, including “Lunch and Learn” programs with health-care professionals, Beard said.

Workers who take the required physicals and score well on the health screenings qualify for an enhanced insurance plan, or “Hi Plan.” Workers who don’t get physicals or fail the screenings go into the less-rich plan, or “Lo Plan,” which includes higher co-pays and a smaller percentage cost share by the insurance provider, Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Beard said the premium for the “Hi Plan” is $567.95 per employee per month. The premium for the “Lo Plan” is $481.43.

The town’s current plan requires employees to pay 10 percent of that premium; the town picks up the rest. Employees who score better and take part in the town’s health programs eventually get that 10 percent back. Workers with an identified risk for a serious medical condition are still responsible for 10 percent of the premium.

The Town Council will hold a budget work session at 5 p.m. May 28 in the Clayton Law Enforcement Center training room. A public hearing on the proposed 2014-15 year budget will likely be held in June.

Dunn: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104

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