Supervisors: ‘get your checkup’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Supervisors: ‘get your checkup’

By Rupert Howell
County employees may face a financial penalty if they don’t get their annual health checkup now required of all full-time employees on the Panola County’s health plan.

During the first meeting of the new year supervisors voted to approve a wellness program that not only mandates the free annual check up, but incentivises those who do by continuing to pay 100 percent of their monthly health care premium.

Those who fail to use the program will get 90 percent of their premium paid.

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Panola County currently pays 100 percent of an employee’s health care. The employee can add additional family members at their own expense.

Kirk Scoggins who handles the county’s account from Gathings Insurance Partners had earlier warned supervisors that the county will face an additional increase in the coming year due to heavy claims volume of Panola County employees.

District Five Supervisor Cole Flint said during Monday’s meeting, “I don’t know how we can keep absorbing increases (for health insurance costs)” and suggested that all employees at some point may be forced to pay a portion of the premium if prices continue to rise.

Scoggins has “preached” healthy lifestyles and annual checkups to meetings of department heads and employees but with tepid results.

He noted that of approximately 180 full-time employees only 25 had full checkups and an additional 50 had “some part” of their annual checkup.

County Administrator Kelley Magee told the board and Scoggins that  the free check up participation had not been good.

Following that statement a discussion revealed that several county employees did not use family doctors or local clinics, but would go to a hospital emergency room for non emergencies.

Scoggins confirmed that the number of emergency room visits appeared to be excessive.

Concerning managing costs, Scoggins said, “It’s up to individuals to look after themselves,” after noting that only 40 percent had taken advantage of the free checkups offered.

Scoggins drew a parallel between free checkups and changing a car’s oil every 5,000 miles.
“The least they can do is go to the doctor’s office and spend a couple of hours once a year and check their numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.),” the insurance executive said and noted that checkups, lifestyle and costs were, “all intertwined.”

District Three Supervisor John Thomas said, “Let’s make it mandatory and be done with it.”
But before the board could vote District Two Supervisor Vernice Avant stated that employees needed to pay if they didn’t participate and the board agreed for employees to pay up to 10 percent if they did not participate in the wellness program and receive a free check up.