The Town of Smithfield has decided not to pursue adding their employees to the State of North Carolina Health Plan.
Legislation passed in 2015 by the General Assembly allows 10,000 local government employees from across the state to join the state health plan. Several towns and cities signed up immediately, including the Town of Clayton last November where Town Steve Biggs said it could save 15 to 20 percent annually on healthcare premiums. The Town of Benson signed up a few weeks later. Mayor William Massengill said it would save $63,000 per year.
However, Smithfield leaders learned this month, the threshold of 10,000 employees had already been met and Smithfield would be placed on a waiting list if they wished to join. Officials also learned 32 retired employees who receive full health benefits would not be covered on the state plan. Human Resource Director Tim Kerigan said 62 additional town employees were hired before July 1, 2007 and with 20 years of service they would also be given retiree health benefits. After July 1, 2007, employees hired by the Town of Smithfield do not receive lifetime health coverage.
While Kerigan said the State offers similar coverage to the Town of Smithfield, no one knows what the State will be offering in the future. And there’s a catch. Once local governments sign up for the State health plan, they can never drop out.
And Kerigan said, Smithfield’s current insurance carrier would not provide coverage to the 32 retirees only.
The town council voted to table discuss on the matter indefinitely.