ELIZABETHTOWN — A North Carolina Senate Bill was ratified on Tuesday that will allow employees of the town of Elizabethtown and the town of Matthew to participate in the state's health insurance plan. Elizabethtown Town Manager Eddie Madden said the switch will generate a cost savings to the town and also offer the town's employees greater incentives for health and wellness and smoking cessation plans. Town Finance Director Jay Leatherman said the cost savings to the town will translate to about $600 per month or $7,000 per year by switching to the state employees health plan, based on the plan's current rate. Madden said the town's next steps will be to meet with representatives from the state health plan to learn about the plan's benefits, incentives and types of coverage. Also, Madden said the town will have to cancel the policy it holds with the current provider and enroll in the state insurance plan on Jan. 1. “It will make it less expensive, especially for those with dependants,” said Madden of the switch. During recent budget negotiations the town staff learned that the insurance coverage the town had with Blue Cross and Blue Shield was going to increase by about $114,170, said Leatherman. “We had to go to an alternative plan with United Healthcare that had less desirable deductibles and premiums were higher,” said Madden. He said the town staff began to consider what the alternatives were and the state health plan came up for discussion. “We contacted the legislature and Rep. William Brisson offered to help and got legislation introduced in the Senate and he carried it through the House and Senate and has been very diligent and determined to see this through for us,” said Madden. He added that the current plan the town belongs to is a smaller group and if it should have a large number of claims it could cause rates to spike each year. Madden pointed out the state employee health plan is a much larger group and thereby rates should increase at more incremental and predictable rate compared to smaller group plans. “When you factor in dependent coverage, it appears that premiums will cost us about $50,000 less per year,” said Madden. He added that individual coverage will cost the town about the same amount with the state health plan as it does with the current provider, but he stressed there is a savings to those employees who have dependent coverage.