Health Insurance Policy Expanding in Kanawha County

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A health insurance policy for Kanawha County employees is expanding, with the hope that it will help save lives and save the county money.

Steve Sluss is the attorney for the Kanawha County assessor.

Because of a policy where county employees take mandatory annual physicals to stay on the county's health insurance, Sluss’s doctor made a life-saving discovery.

"My doctor was able to catch prostate cancer fairly early,” Sluss said. “I had an aggressive kind of prostate cancer. I had surgery, and now so far I'm cancer free."

Sluss’s story and others like it have spurred the Kanawha County Commission to rule county workers' spouses and their older children still listed as dependents must also take the annual physicals.

They’ve been spending $30,000 a year on these mandatory physicals, and by expanding the program they're more than doubling that, but they say through preventive measures and early detection, they're more than making up for those costs.

"If you could figure out the intangibles, the money probably more than levels out," Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said at Thursday evening’s commission meeting.

"If you save one 90,000 dollar claim, you've paid for the add-on for three years," Commissioner Dave Hardy said.

"If they allow it to manifest and don't discover the problem, medical bills are much higher into the future, and much higher to deal with on a case by case basis," employee benefit consultant Ron Walters said.

It’s a measure Sluss says goes well beyond saving money.

“If I'd have waited, it probably wouldn't have been caught until it was too late for me," Sluss said.

The expanded policy goes into effect June of 2014. People can be given the physical by their own doctor.

City of Charleston employees and their dependents already require an annual physical.

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