MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – A group of Myrtle Beach retirees continued to push city leaders on Tuesday to find a way to preserve health benefits they said were promised upon retirement.
During Tuesday morning’s city council meeting, retiree Chris Collins read a letter from 97 retirees that had already been sent to council members. He highlighted many of the challenges group members expect if benefits are cut in January and they are forced to get private coverage.
This is the second time that City Council has heard from retirees concerned about the issue. Dozens of people showed up for a meeting on September 14 to protest the potential loss of their benefits.
In the letter, retirees expressed concerns about the higher premiums they could incur by being withdrawn from a group plan and the potential loss of access to use of the city clinic, where retirees have “Long-term doctor / patient relationships, do not have to pay a co-payment per visit, receive essential labs free of charge, and receive the vast majority of our prescriptions free of charge.
“With the explosive growth of the population in this region, many people are struggling to find primary care doctors,” the letter said. “And while an appointment can be made, it is often months for new patients.”
The letter also highlighted concerns of retirees about vision and dental coverage, rising drug costs and concerns of some being forced to return to work to cover significantly increased insurance costs.
Mayor Brenda Bethune said she realizes the importance of the problem to everyone and is committed to continuing to look for ways to remedy the situation.
“We’re still watching it,” she said. “We want there to be a fair solution for all of you, because we realize that this affects you all, as well as your families. “
Councilor Clyde Lowder reiterated that a final decision has not been made.
“Everyone just needs to relax,” he said. “We will try to find something that is right for everyone.”
Retiree Marty Eells also spoke at Tuesday’s meeting. He asked that “some of us be allowed to attend meetings and discussions” on the proposed changes.
Registration for the city’s health benefits is expected to begin in November and continue through early December. The new plans are expected to go into effect on January 1.