THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - Thomas County employees say they're panicking about possible cuts to their healthcare benefits.
The county sent out a bulletin this week that showed spouse health benefits may end next year.
Health care costs for Thomas County employees have skyrocketed over the last 15 years from $700,000 to more than $4.5 million a year. Leaders say they've got to make cuts in that spending.
Thomas County Commissioner Elaine Mays said, “It's just one of those decisions that tremendously hard to make.”
One of the proposed solutions? To end spouse health benefits completely, saving the county a million dollars a year.
But that proposal has many county employees upset.
Captain Steve Jones with the Thomas County Sheriff's Office said, “Several of the officers and civilians that work in this office are concerned and, the term scared, of what's going to happen.”
County employees said they're happy with the benefits they get from their current coverage with Taylor Benefits Resources, and losing those benefits may cause the county to lose workers.
Jones said, “Salary is not always the most lucrative. But having a benefits package along with it helps us to keep employees in this office and also to recruit employees.”
The county said that if health care costs continue to rise, they will have to consider offering a supplement to help employees find insurance elsewhere, instead of offering coverage through the county.
Jones said, “It's pretty scary to think that that's an option. Especially the cost of just going to the doctor or taking a child to the doctor, or dentist, or optometrist. Any little bit helps.”
The commissioners said they don't want another tax increase.
They plan to meet Monday to discuss their budget and other cost control options.