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Police chief requests insurance change

By Kristen Bishop · 340-2443

MOULTON — The Town Creek police chief said a clause in the county’s agreement with the State Employees Insurance Board is costing his family about $300 a month and “appears to be discrimination.”

Chief Jerry L. Garrett and his wife, Linda, told the Lawrence County Commission on Monday that if they couldn’t change the clause, they should consider changing insurance companies.

Under the policy for local-government workers, employees must each pay for individual coverage and are not allowed to purchase a family plan that covers both.

The Garretts are both public employees and have been spending about $380 each month for separate plans. The police chief’s insurance through Town Creek costs him about $300 a month, while Linda Garrett’s is about $80.

When Garrett took the job in Town Creek, he opted out of the insurance there to take advantage of the dental and vision coverage in his wife’s plan with the county.

But about a month later, he received a letter from the company stating he had to have his own policy.

“So basically, we’re having to pay more, and I’m being denied dental and vision that I would have otherwise,” he said.

The Garretts are expecting their first child in December and plan to apply for family coverage under Linda’s plan. Her monthly cost will increase by $170, but the “family” coverage won’t include her husband.

County Administrator Linda Harville said Monday that SEIB requires organizations to adopt a 100 percent participation policy.

“They won’t accept a group unless they do that,” she said.

Garrett pointed out that many employees don’t have insurance through the county because their spouses’ companies offer better coverage.

“They’re forcing me to take this insurance out, and it’s only against the people working for local government. If your spouse works at Nucor, you can opt out of the county insurance, so that 100 percent participation thing is not true,” he said.

“... I hate to say the word ‘discrimination,’ but if you look at it in black and white, that’s what it appears to be.”

The commissioners approved a motion to revisit the issue at the Sept. 10 meeting.

Chairman Mose Jones said SEIB representative Teresa Scoggins will be available to answer questions. Commissioner John Terry said he would invite representatives from other insurance companies to attend.

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