April 10. 2014 10:51PM

City health costs: Wellness coordinator is no fix


Why are health insurance costs for Manchester city employees shooting up even after most unions accepted higher copays and deductibles? One alderman seems to think that the cause is employee ignorance. We find that highly unlikely.

City health insurance costs dropped immediately after the contract concessions, but they are rising again and straining the budget. Ward 6 Alderman Garth Corriveau says the solution is to hire a wellness coordinator who can teach employees how to live healthier lives. But costs are not rising because employees don’t know that eating well and exercising will improve their health.

“I think our plan design changes have helped a little bit, but if you look nationally, health care expenses are going up, approaching double digits,” City Finance Director Bill Sanders said last week. Bingo.

City employees already have a wellness committee and access to a program that provides information on healthy living and lets them shop for lower-cost health services. Adding a wellness coordinator won’t provide a dramatic change.