City considering health care incentivesPublished 12:01am Monday, January 28, 2013
NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez is considering incentives to get employees interested in taking advantage of a health benefit for which the employees are already paying.
Community Development Director James Johnston presented options for the city to give incentives to its employees to participate in Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Healthy You program.
The city currently offers the program, Johnston said, but only 5 percent of city employees are enrolled.
The Healthy You program includes health screenings, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and weight, immunizations and other benefits.
Johnston suggested that the city allow employees one day to visit a doctor to receive a physical, blood work and other tests needed to enroll in the program. Johnston said the employees should be required to submit a doctor’s excuse to their department heads to show proof of the visit.
The aldermen went back and forth on whether a half-day or whole day should be given for the doctor’s visit and whether employees could use a sick day for the visit.
Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said he believes the city should give an administrative directive to employees.
“We should say ‘You’ve got the time, and we’re paying for it, so you’re going to go,’” he said.
Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith suggested that City Attorney Hyde Carby check into whether the city could direct employees to use a sick day for a visit.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis suggested the department heads schedule the days off for the doctor’s visits so a single department does not have a significant number of employees absent on the same day.
Dillard concluded that if the city could get more employees enrolled in the program that could potentially make them healthier, fewer sick days would be taken.
“You’re going to win on this,” he said.
Mayor Butch Brown said that if an employee used one of their sick days for the wellness visit and needed the day back in the future, he had no problem doing that.
Johnston also proposed the city work with the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Adams, Jefferson and Franklin counties to make city property smoke-free.
The smoking ban would cover all city property, buildings and vehicles.