Starting March 1, Houston County employees currently affected by a healthcare-related payroll deduction can breathe a sigh of relief.
The Houston County Commission will likely approve a request to discontinue payroll deductions for employees who failed to obtain a wellness screening in the 2011-12 budget year.
Workers who did not attend a November 2011 health fair or undergo a screening at a doctor’s office were assessed a $10-per-paycheck deduction.
The county commission voted to assess the fee because the county received an insurance discount if 80 percent or more of its employees obtained the screening.
While 80 percent attended, about 47 failed to do so and received the deduction.
Sheriff Andy Hughes opposed the deductions last year, saying employees were not properly notified of the potential deductions.
Chairman Mark Culver said the county did its due diligence in notifying employees, but since just 24 the county’s more than 350 employees failed to attend the most recent screening, the time was right to end the deductions.
“I think employees got the message,” Culver said. “The participation rate is much higher. We expect employees to get the screening, and if an employee doesn’t, there will be a higher (insurance) price to pay.”
He said requiring employees to attend the health fair has a double benefit.
“The insurance discount we get is beneficial to us, but more important is for the employee,” Culver said. “Many have found out health issues when they went.”
Culver said the commission may consider eliminating deductions as a punishment and instead rewarding employees who do attend the fair with discounted rates.