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Insurance key at all levels

Health insurance may be the hottest topic in the country right now, from Washington, D.C. down to small-town America.

While our Congress and President Barack Obama wrangle over finding a solution that will reform a bloated, non-effective system that doesn’t work for millions of Americans, health insurance remains a huge concern much closer to home.

With rising unemployment and costs escalating for those who are employed, keeping health insurance is something that many families are facing right now.

And it is also a quandary that local governments are dealing with as well, although maybe not quite on the scale of their national counterparts.

Lawrence County officials join this group as they continue to analyze the current insurance provider that costs more than $4 million a year, an expense that has been reduced slightly from recent years.

This should be a top priority for the county and we applaud Commissioner Les Boggs for his work in continuing to examine the choices while keeping this issue on the front burner.

The first step is to analyze all the options available for the county government and its employees, with the understanding that the status quo simply isn’t good enough.

Then the county must work to standardize the coverages and plans for all its employees, regardless of the unions to which they belong or the offices in which they work.

Finally, the county should adopt a plan that more closely mirrors private sector insurances — with the employees picking up a significant part of the tab. And it should also be flexible enough to change as the market changes.

The days of government absorbing double digit increases each year while employees dodge any hike are over.

Employees need health insurance, but they should pay their share.