Clinical Fix Planned for Employee Healthcare
By Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER - The Clearwater City Council last week took steps to control soaring healthcare costs and improve access to health care services, approving an agreement with CareATC to provide a health care clinic to serve the city's employees, retirees and their dependents.
The clinic concept had been discussed for several years, but was actively pursued at the end of last year largely to offset the high deductibles offered by the city's base employee healthcare insurance. For 2010, the annual deductable increased from $750 to $2000 for an individual, and from $1500 to $4500 for a family. The annual out of pocket maximum increased from $3000 to $4500 for an individual, and from $6000 to $9000 for a family.
The clinic, whose use would be voluntary, will be used for primary care office visits and case management, acute and urgent care, initial treatment of job-related injuries, immunizations, dispensing of a pre-determined formulary of prescription drugs, employee pre-hire and annual physicals, health risk assessments, disease management, and other wellness initiatives. All of those services would be provided at no cost to the employee.
The contract that was approved last Thursday will pay CareATC $303,300 annually for administering clinic operation. CareATC will hire the doctors, nurses and medical assistants to staff the facility, and purchase supplies, equipment and prescription medications at their wholesale prices. CareATC's costs will be "passed-through" to the city with no mark-up.
Prescription medications represent a large percentage of the savings the city expects to realize. Clearwater's health benefits consultant, Kurt Gehring said at last week's City Council Worksession, "For every dollar spent you have about a $5 return on prescriptions. "
The cost savings result in-part from CareATC's ability to purchase medications direct from the manufacturer. "That's part of the savings," Gehring said, "but I'd say the majority was more the name brands that are being selected where there's a generic available you can see savings per prescription of almost $200 sometimes per script as far as being able to substitute that. A lot of that is education with an employee, where there's not an incentive with a provider to actually issue a name brand rather than a generic [prescription]."
According to the city's Human Resources Manager, Allen DelPrete, the clinic is expected to produce its greatest cost-savings in the future. Clinic-run wellness initiatives are expected to reduce the future need for employee medical services by preventing diseases.
The Council approved a clinic budget of $750,000 for the remainder of this year, and $1-million each in 2011 and 2012.
The tentative date for opening the clinic is July 1; it will be located at 401 Corbett Street.
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