Commissioners discuss ways to promote active participation in health care system

With the flu on the rise and school back in session, county commissioners discussed ways to incentivise county employees to take regular, preventative measures to improve their health, including regular check-ups.

“We need to keep pursuing that,” Robert Acuff said.

The discussion has been ongoing since the new health insurance policies took effect. If employees are seeking regular check-ups, the committee said, it can help reduce the frequency of expensive treatment later on, which saves the county money, too.

“A gentleman said his insurance pays a part of it,” Austin Jaynes said. “They are required to do it. If not, they are hit with a higher deductible.”

Jaynes said this need to incentivise in some form is important because of just how costly insurance can be for some of them.

“Some of our employees, we are paying all of their health insurance,” he said.

Members of the committee expressed concern at punishing employees for not taking action rather than rewarding them for doing so.

“You have to change the culture,” Ray Lyons said.

The conversation focused on vaccines, particularly the flu shot, as the recent epidemic sweeps through the tri-cities region.

“Walgreens came up to give the flu shot,” Mayor Rusty Barnett said. “Nobody came.”

Brad Johnson said the spread of information is diminished in county government. Several attempts to educate employees on new health insurance opportunities met with few people willing or able to listen.

“When it involves a county employee, we have no line of communication,” Johnson said.

Acuff pointed out there is a stigma surrounding vaccinations in the county, a stigma he said he would like to dispel in order to encourage people to obtain what they need.

Further, a lack of ability to seek treatment for seasonal illnesses impacts the schools, as well.

“Kids are still sent to school sick,” Acuff said.

The committee is still waiting on information about what their options are before they can set any firm policies.

The committee also unanimously approved the 2020 reimbursement rates for EMS workers under TennCare, which they have to approve every year as the rates change.

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