BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County Wellness Committee has led 80-plus county employees and their family members through the first phase of the county's new Wellness Program, according to reports during Wednesday's meeting of the Insurance Committee.
The first three months of the program included an eight-week session known as "Lose & Win," which aimed to prompt weight loss and healthier habits.
Committee Chairman and county Budget Director Mary Shelton said that the program had proven a success in many departments and that the names of six quarterly winners were recently drawn to receive a day's vacation for their participation.
In fact, she said the response to the Lose & Win program had been so positive that she and fellow leaders Lt. Jerry Scott and Health Department Director Shaun Street plan to complete the remaining six sessions in the program for the next quarter.
Street has also agreed to hold a noon session that will start at the beginning of the Lose & Win program in order to include any employees who were unable to participate during after-work hours.
In addition, Shelton told the Insurance Committee that the Wellness Committee is considering adding a walking program.
"Not everybody needs to lose weight," she explained.
"But everybody needs to move," Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk said.
Kirk agreed to research which county schools have areas available to walk and the length of each walking area.
Meanwhile, Shelton said the Wellness Committee will study the length of sidewalk pathways in downtown Greeneville.
County employees who participate throughout all four quarters of the Wellness Program will be eligible to be included in the year-end $1,000 drawing.
In other reports, Ginny McClellan, a strategic account executive with UnitedHealthcare Vision, updated the Insurance Committee on the vision plan's utilization.
In June, she reported that only 14 percent of those covered have utilized the county's vision care plan.
As of Wednesday, she said that number remains less than 21 percent.
This means that, within the first 13 months of the plan, $25,000 in claims were made in-network and $1,850 in claims reimbursements were made out-of-network.
McClellan reminded the committee that participants in the plan can visit an out-of-network provider and file to receive reimbursements including $40 for vision examinations, $75 for frames, $85 for lenses and $150 for contact lenses.
There are now only two in-network providers in Greeneville, she said, but there are others being utilized in the area, such as in Limestone and Johnson City.
"Is this a good program for the county or not?" County Attorney Roger Woolsey questioned.
"We've paid out about $43,000 in this 13-month timeframe. Our claims then are around $27,000," said Jim Jordan, the county's insurance broker and committee consultant.
"That's about a 63 percent loss ratio," he continued. "The administrative fee on vision would be high, just because of the invidividual claims that have to be processed.
"When we looked at this before July 2011, we looked at self-funding, as well as fully insured. Because of the fact that our claims for the prior year with BlueCross [BlueShield] were around $64,000 for that one year, we felt that we had a really good deal, if you will, to pay a premium of $40,000 for the UnitedHealthcare.
"That's the main reason we went fully insured on that."
Although the plan is clearly not being utilized as much as the committee had anticipated, Sheriff Steve Burns said he felt it was still too early to determine the need for any change since employees were urged to visit vision providers before the county changed from BlueCross.
He asked that the committee consider reviewing the utilization numbers again in March 2013.