Major changes to Hall County
employee health plans
-Increase in medical plan premiums
-Increase in retail pharmacy co-pay
-Increase in ER visit co-pay
-Decrease in physical therapy co-pay
Hall County employees will soon be paying higher co-pays and premiums for health care coverage, with some increases designed to drive workers to use the county clinic and save on emergency room costs.
“While we’ve made some strides, we still have too many claims and too many people going through the ER,” Human Resources Director Bill Moats told the Board of Commissioners at a Monday meeting.
There were 316 ER visits in the first six months of the year at an average cost of $1,560 per visit.
Moats said he believed 73 of those visits could have been steered to an urgent care clinic.
There were just 148 urgent care visits from January through June, at an average cost of $199 per visit.
The ER co-pay will increase $50 in an attempt to “push” employees to seek alternative care when possible.
Meanwhile, employee medical plan premiums have remained unchanged for two years, but increases are coming, partly as a result of rising costs for specialty drugs.
“We can’t go another year” without premium increases, Moats said.
The premiums will increase anywhere from $42 to $322 annually depending on the specific employee plan.
Other changes include increasing the retail pharmacy co-pay, which is meant to drive traffic to the county pharmacy.
The county will reduce its physical therapy co-pay, however, because Moats said employees have been known to skip the treatment, leading to complications down the road.
Finally, the county will no longer provide employees with sick time on a lump-sum basis at the beginning of each year. Instead, employees will accrue sick days based on hours worked.