Houston & Peach

Houston raises health costs for employees

Starting in January, hundreds of Houston County employees will be paying more for their health care.

The County Commission on Tuesday voted to raise the contributions that employees make to their health care coverage. The county has 640 employees on its health plan along with 31 retirees.

Employees’ premium contributions will increase $5 per pay period, which is every two weeks. Co-pays on drugs will increase $5 per prescription. Co-pays on doctor visits will go up $10. Maximum out of pocket expenses on medications will increase from $2,000 annually to $4,000. Deductibles will increase from $50 to $300.

Commissioner Jay Walker, who made the motion to approve the resolution, said the increases were recommended by staff to meet rising health care costs. The county operates a self-funded insurance plan.

“This is something that obviously the board of commissioners wished they didn’t have to do but with the rising costs of health insurance, the people that are covered under it are going to have to take a greater role in helping pay for that health insurance in the future,” Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said.

Also, the county will no longer cover medication for erectile dysfunction. Some employees may still be able to get those drugs covered with a doctor’s note that the medication is for a problem other than erectile dysfunction.

The changes take effect Jan. 1.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1