Health plan wellness incentive powers worry state employees

Posted March 26, 2013

— A proposal to create more "wellness incentives" in the State Health Plan would give the state treasurer too much power, state workers told the House Insurance Committee Tuesday.

The committee approved a measure on a voice vote to make technical changes to the health insurance program that covers some 700,000 state workers, teachers and retirees. 

House Bill 232 gives the treasurer the power to "adopt, implement, and administer population health management programs, including case and disease management programs and wellness programs and incentives." Such programs offer workers discounts for quitting smoking, exercising more or doing ministerial things such as designating a primary care doctor. 

"The healthier our state employees are, the less they will cost this program," said Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash. 

Ardis Watkins, a lobbyists for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, argued that the bill would hand State Treasurer Janet Cowell too much power to set rates.

It has been only two years since lawmakers gave up the power to manage the plan to an independent board in the Treasurer's Office. Watkins argued that the new bill would strip some of that power and lead to higher premiums for state employees.

"I still don't feel comfortable our members ... and other state employees won't be hurt," she said.

But Rep. Jerry Dockham, D-Davidson, said the bill only gave the treasurer the power to offer incentives, not set premiums as the board does.

"We're not stripping anyone of anything," he said. 

Dockham and others, including Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, and Rick Glazier, R-Cumberland, said the bill was a necessary step in controlling costs.


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  • NCMom1 Mar 27, 2013

    It sounds like the approved base rate would stay the same and if you practice healthy habits there would then be a discount, not the other way around where you would be penalized. I dont see a problem with incentives for healthy habits as long as they are not changing the base rate. In the long run, practicing healthy habits would decrease future claims...

  • ctya Mar 27, 2013

    nerdlywehunt please do your fact checks there is NO LAVISH RETIREMENT SYSTEM. You people kill me making comment without knowing the truth.

  • rosannedisney Mar 26, 2013

    My sister had this in the state in which she worked. She wasn't overweight and she didn't smoke or have any health issues but she had to go to the gym twice a week to get tbe best rate.

    That would not work for me. First of all, for the money it would cost for the gas to drive to the gym I'm sure I would lose any savings. Second, when I was young, single, and before I had kids I went to the gym a lot. Now my family likes to hike, run, bike, etc.. We like to be outside.

    Seriously, what is the deal with this hands on everything stuff. Where are the jobs? Yes, I have a job but I know far too many capable people who are looking for work and/or have had to take jobs that are low in pay and don't utilize their skills.

    Where are the jobs?

  • tracmister Mar 26, 2013

    Does this look familiar? It's called an expansion of government to regulate the lives of people. The common term is a liberal idea. Guess the Republicans are turning. The lesson, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  • nerdlywehunt Mar 26, 2013

    I am all for people that have unhealthy habits (like smoking) to pay their REAL share of the burden placed on health care system!!!!!!

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Mar 26, 2013

    Unfortunately this allows some bureaucrat somewhere to look at someone's height and weight on a piece of paper and instantly decide if that person is healthy with no knowledge whatsoever of that person's body composition or overall health. Many "overweight" people have a lot of muscle and are very healthy, while some thin people who look good on paper have major health problems. Simply looking at two numbers on a piece of paper and raising people's premiums accordingly is not fair.