Local Employers Exploring Feasibility Of Establishing Health, Wellness Clinic
Looking for ways to save money while still providing employees with quality, affordable healthcare, representatives from Spencer Owen Community Schools, Babbs SuperValu, the Owen County Public Library, county government, the Town of Ellettsville and World Arts Holdings, Inc. recently joined Owen County State Bank at its primary branch location in Spencer to discuss the possibility of establishing a local health and wellness clinic for employees.
Although OCSB’s approximately 100 employees already benefit from the services of a primary care provider through a health and wellness clinic in Bloomington, it was noted that an Owen County location would be much more beneficial and help serve additional employers in the county.
“Health care costs are just going to continue to go up and the marketplace is going to get more and more complicated as we move through healthcare reform, so one of the models we’ve found is clinics,” said Jeff Neal, a representative of JA Benefits. “The bank here got involved in January of this year and they’ve had 46 percent of their people go to the clinic. Those folks are driving to Bloomington to do that, so if there was a local clinic here, we certainly think that would enhance those numbers. I think the people who have used it have found it to be very beneficial... it’s a very low-cost way for people to get access to healthcare.”
It was noted that joining the clinic would not replace traditional insurance coverage, but may lower co-pay costs.
Activate Healthcare Chief Customer Officer Kim Gray noted that while the total start-up cost for a fully staffed 40-hour a week clinic is estimated at $152,964, most clients often receive a 100 percent return on their investment. The total cost would be divided among local employers who make their employees members of the clinic. He added that the employers are in charge of the clinic’s operations, both by hiring the staff and by each employer choosing which employees to provide clinic benefits. The cost would be paid for by employers, with full access to the clinic provided free for employees.
“When you go to access care a lot of times you’re waiting a long period of time to get in and it’s not necessarily the fault of the physician. There are usually four to five exam rooms and the doctor is the center part of that whole process,” Gray said. “So the goal of this was that we really need to go back to a healthcare system to where the employee is at the center of the healthcare that is there and the employer, who’s paying for this, has a lot of say in this process. If you look at Fortune 100 or Fortune 500 companies, a lot of them have had clinics in place for 25 years. So why did they do this? Well, so they could save money; our concept was that most companies don’t have 1,000 employees or more. So the concept is to bring communities together and change the way healthcare is delivered by having multiple employers being able to access a clinic and make those types of changes. This is a normal physician’s office that is established, the only difference is we have two chairs in the waiting room and nobody sits in them because as soon as you come in, you’ll wait for a minute or two then they’ll grab you and take you back to the exam room where a provider will be there actually taking care of you at that point in time.”
Only approximately 1,000 members would be needed to begin the clinic and, although six Owen County businesses were on hand for the recent meeting. When added together, the number of employees from S-OCS (425), Babbs and Sav-A-Lot (100), Owen County government (170), World Arts (100) and OCSB (100) would nearly total the 1,000-member mark needed to begin a fully operational clinic. The clinic would also be open to anyone in the community who wanted to join. The monthly access fee for these individuals would depend on the number of members there are of the clinic. The more members of the clinic, the lower the cost is to utilize the services provided.
“About 75 to 80 percent of the things going on in the healthcare system today are because of chronic illness,” Gray Said. “Chronic conditions take longer than a five or ten-minute visit to be able to solve what the issue is. What we do are hour-long physicals where we really try to sit down with a person and go through their health history with them. Our doctors will usually ask you, ‘When was the last time you were at your A-game health and what are the things you could do five years ago that you can’t today, but would like to be able to do?’ It’s a whole new way to approach the concept... the idea is centered around how we make people healthier. In that process of making people healthier, the costs for employers goes down.”
If established, the office would be staffed by a full-time physician who is a family practice doctor, a full-time nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant and a medical assistant.
“The results have been overwhelming... a 20 percent reduction in costs are typical and that’s your medical, drug claims and workman’s compensation,” Gray noted. “We can do exams, drug testing and preemployment screenings. We usually cover 60 to 70 prescription drugs in the clinic – we actually house them on site and provide them at cost. Another way to save is through labs. We use a reference lab and most blood draws cost between $5 and $17 for whatever tests they run, so that’s what it costs at the clinic. If you go to the hospital, that’s going to cost $100 to $300.”
Additional meetings are expected to be scheduled at a later date for further discussion regarding the possibility of establishing the local clinic.
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