PARKERSBURG - The Wood County Commission on Monday agreed to share the health care savings the county realized with employees.
The county is going into the third year of having a Health Reimbursement Account with its insurance program. The commissioners budgeted $450,000 for the HRA, and actually only spent $259,081 resulting in a savings totaling $190,919.
The commission agreed to give each of the full-time county employees $400 as a one-time health care savings dividend, with the remainder of the savings going into the ending balance. The county has about 200 employees.
"By funding itself the county assumes liability the insurance company would have, so having the HRA is another way to keep the rates down," county administrator Marty Seufer said.
"We started using the HRA about two years ago and had savings both times, so we were able to authorize a health reimbursement dividend to the employees. It's a way of rewarding the employees for keeping insurance costs down for the county," commission President Blair Couch said. "The employees have made efforts toward healthier lifestyles and usage obviously affects rates."
Different options were tried to keep the costs down to not raise taxes, Couch said.
"I think everyone is concerned what 2014 will bring with the new federal health care legislation. We may have some tough choices to make, but we will continue to look for innovative solutions," Couch said.
The county has an employee benefits committee made up of officials and representatives from all the county offices which meets regularly, making suggestions and comments on changes in insurance coverage and coordinating wellness activities which includes a fitness program initiated several year ago.
Through the exercise program, participating employees are reimbursed for certain costs related to using local exercise facilities. Employees are also routinely offered flu shots, health screenings, participated in healthy lunch programs as well as walking and other fitness activities.
Under the current county health insurance plan, employees have their own health insurance paid by the county. If the employee has additional family coverage, they pay a percentage of the additional cost.