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Mason Employees Seek Better Health Benefits, Lower Costs

By: by Laurabree Austin
By: by Laurabree Austin

Many people would argue health insurance -- or more accurately, the lack of it -- is a crisis in this country. Many companies offer health insurance for their employees and families-- but those costs continue to climb.

Employers are often forced to raise premiums, and cut benefits. That's the situation for county employees in Mason County: New hires are offered individual coverage -- but to include their families, it's hundreds of dollars more. now some people are taking a stand over this new policy.
Sheriff Scott Simms believes he's losing deputies because of the policy. Commissioners decided to table the issue-- saying they'll spend the next two weeks analyzing the situation. but ultimately it comes down to money.

For the last six months anyone who's been hired by Mason County is told they'll just get health insurance for themselves...unless they want to pay hundreds more for their family. It's too much for some people to swing.

Sharon Rainey, a deputy circuit clerk says with the pay being at the rate it is here, when you have to pay four hundred dollars a month insurance that takes a big chunk out of your paycheck. Rainey was hired under the old policy, so her coverage hasn't changed. that was important because it meant her husband could take a new job with the sheriff's department. She says if she had not already been employed here he probably would not have been able to take the job because of the insurance.

The County says it simply comes down to the cost -- but the Sheriff says he's losing deputies because of it. Commissioner Miles Epling questions whether the new insurance policy really is having an impact on getting or keeping employees.

Sheriff Scott Simms was at today's meeting but didn't want to comment on the situation. He says he doesn't want to do anything to hurt his deputies' chances of getting the coverage.
Commissioners say they'll take the next two weeks to do research and compare their situation to other counties similar in size. They say so far they have spoken with Jackson County and have learned they also do the single coverage.

The sheriff's department is currently down two deputies. Commissioners say they would never let the situation get to the point where safety becomes an issue.


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