HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — With just a week to go, about 12% of state employees have yet to comply with a rule requiring participation in a wellness program.
Comptroller Kevin Lembo said his office has been sending letters and emails and has been in touch with state commissioners to get workers — and their spouses using the state’s health care plan — to know about the May 31 deadline. As of Wednesday, about 5,000 workers had not complied.
“It’s a constant drumbeat that reminds and encourages people,” he said.
The requirement is part of a program intended to improve care and cut potential medical costs for the state. Employees are required to inform the state by May 31 that they’ve made appointments for dental or medical procedures and have the work done by Dec. 31.
Failure to comply will result in a premium of $100 a month in addition to the regular premium.
State workers and retirees who participate, including their dependents, must agree to have physicals — annually for those 50 years and older — age-related screenings such as cholesterol tests and cancer screenings.
Robert Krzys, an attorney and health care expert for a coalition of Connecticut state employee unions, said the state is ensuring that compliance will be 100%, but he expects about 1,000 employees will likely not comply with the requirements by the deadline.
“We’re checking on folks,” he said. “It’s kind of a clarion call to people to set their appointments. Let us know when you plan to do it.”
Tara Downes, a spokeswoman for the comptroller’s office, said about 6,000 of 51,000 enrolled state workers — about 12% — had not complied as of Wednesday. But that number is falling fast, she said.
The program is part of a labor agreement negotiated last year between the Malloy administration and unions. Instead of imposing higher co-pays and rolling back health insurance coverage, Connecticut officials want workers to get colonoscopies, mammograms, annual physicals, teeth cleanings and other preventive measures to help cut costs.
Dan Livingston, the labor lawyer who helped negotiate the agreement with the administration, said the health maintenance arrangements will help keep down rising health care costs.
Krzys said Connecticut’s program is new, forcing officials to solve problems as they emerge such as a website he said is not very good or letters that may have gone to the wrong member of a household.
The website, www.cthep.com, requires employees or retirees to log in, but provides no information about the health program.
“This is kind of an administrative nightmare right now,” Krzys said. “We’re building the airline while we’re flying it.”