Digital First: Forrest County pays health insurance fees for employees

Pine Belt

A stack of $100 bills (Nexstar, file)

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – The Forrest County Board of Supervisors will fund a $300,000 difference in health insurance increases of its employees, empowering workers to stay at their current rate of $20 each pay toward their benefits.

Leaders said despite a recommendation to increase health insurance payments for its employees, they budgeted for an alternative that would put the cost on them.

“We didn’t want to put additional health insurance burden on employees who may not be able to afford health insurance increases.”

The concern came when evaluating current wages against the increase. Leaders say they are not able to fund a pay increase for its employees because of its concern with the budget due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Optimism was cited about how the 2021 fiscal year will go and in conversation it was mentioned that the board would be open to revisiting wages in the 2022 budget.

The alternative to a positive 2021 fiscal impact is a negative one. The board says if the new fiscal year doesn’t run well, instead of looking at potential wage increases, they might have to review department cuts and possible increased taxes.

Of the $300,000, the board will receive rebate on $90,000, making the investment $210,000 in their employees. Such rebates are possible through the Affordable Care Act that allows health insurance companies a maximum profit sending all funds beyond that profit percentage back to employers. An in this case, it’s Forrest County.

The board noted that public servants don’t receive large wages in order to keep burdens tax payers at a minimum.

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