Archive for Friday, September 5, 2008

City may be 1st in state with health clinic

Municipal employees would have onsite access to services

Rising health insurance costs have Lawrence city leaders looking for new ways to keep their workers healthy.

September 5, 2008


City Hall leaders are making plans to likely become the first city in the state to provide on-site health care for its employees.

The goal is to produce healthier employees and a healthier budget.

"We feel like this is going to give us the opportunity to reduce our insurance costs or at least reduce the likelihood that our costs will increase greatly," Lawrence Mayor Mike Dever said.

City administrators are requesting proposals from area health companies to set up an on-site health clinic that would provide basic medical services to city employees and perhaps their family members.

Frank Reeb, the city's director of administrative services, said the clinic would be in one of the city-owned buildings, although it may not be in City Hall.

"We have employees all over the city, so we'll just have to pick a location that does the best job of meeting the needs of our work force," Reeb said.

The city expects to have proposals in hand by early October. The city for 2009 has budgeted up to $225,000 in startup costs for the program. It doesn't yet have an estimate for ongoing operational costs. The proposals should shed light on those costs.

But Reeb said the city is willing to spend money on the program if there's a chance that it could slow the rising cost of providing health insurance to the city's approximately 775 full-time employees.

In 2009, costs for the city's health care plan are expected to increase by about 10 percent, or an additional $635,000.

Reeb said the city began looking at creating an on-site clinic after seeing several private companies taking that approach to control health care costs. Some studies, he said, have indicated the city could save $2 to $5 in health insurance costs for every dollar it spends on the program.

Reeb said some cities in other states have started to create the clinics, but he said he wasn't aware of any Kansas communities that had taken the step.

The clinic likely would be staffed by a nurse practitioner or similar type of health care professional. The clinic isn't planned to be a substitute for an employee's primary care physician, but it would be equipped to handle many common ailments.

"One idea is that when an employee or perhaps even one of their dependents has a cold or has flu-like symptoms, they'll be able to get in and see a professional quickly, which is good for everyone," Reeb said.

The city also plans to use the clinic to do a "front-end assessment" of employees. The assessment could include testing that would alert employees to potentially serious problems such as high cholesterol, heart problems or diabetes.

City employees may be given a break on their monthly insurance premiums if they sign up to take the assessment.

Depending on the cost estimates, the city hopes to have the on-site clinic open by early 2009.


dipweed 9 years, 8 months ago

uuhhh...anyone that's late to work has to go get a penicillin shot at the new clinic

Bob Forer 9 years, 8 months ago

"We feel like this is going to give us the opportunity to reduce our insurance costs or at least reduce the likelihood that our costs will increase greatly," Lawrence Mayor Mike Dever said.So, what's your point, Mikey? I get a certain "feeling" moments before having a bowel movement. Before implementing the plan, the citizens of Lawrence would prefer facts, figures, and projectoins to "feelings." Okay, if the City follows through on their plan, we will be the first city in the State of Kansas. That fact implies that cities in other states have implemented such clinics. Which suggests the 64 cent question: what were/are their experiences? Also, the article states that a few larger companies have recently implemented on-site health clinics with a view towards controlling health care costs. While that observation is a start, shouldn't you ask a follow-up question: Are those programs actually saving money? And by the way, I am not suggesting another one of those ridiculous half-million dollar "studies". You guys are all educated. Look it up on the internet. Or ask for some gratis advice from KU. It would be a great method of initiating a sorely needed symbiotic town/gown relationship.

igby 9 years, 8 months ago

Soon after the clinic will be open to all employees and Lawrence residents at the tax payers expense. This will demand another sales tax increase and mill levy increase. The homeless at the drop center and Salvation army will get free health care at the city tax payers expense.Read between the lines and see just how this project was started just like SF, California's city government started their project 20 years ago. SF is facing bankruptcy as did other surrounding cities have followed SF's plan.This clinic will not just stop at serving city employee's. It's a big can of liberal worms that if opened will soon bankrupt Lawrence, as did the T.

Yabut 9 years, 8 months ago

Has anyone surveyed the city employees to see how many would actually use this service?

Chris Ogle 9 years, 8 months ago

I view this as an attempt to control our tax burden. I hope it works... if not, at least we are making an effort. Welcome change!!!!

Tony Kisner 9 years, 8 months ago

those issues noted could easily be identified by requiring an annual exam. Why duplicate services already available and probably a part of the insurance plan for City employees, (thus already paid for). If early detection is the goal, make them go for a check up. Not every problem requires new spending.

samsnewplace 9 years, 8 months ago

just_another_bozo don't you like being told what you are going to do, what doctor you are going to see? I agree!

been_there 9 years, 8 months ago

It would be nice if the city's part time employees that are not offered insurance could use it also.

srichardson22 9 years, 8 months ago

This is a great idea. The city can look to Amarr Garage Doors to see the benefits of this as they have a clinic on site. It could reduce cost of medical claims, absenteeism, time off for doctor's appointments, raise production and overall health of employees. There are cost savings from many angles.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 8 months ago

"just_another_bozo don't you like being told what you are going to do, what doctor you are going to see?"For nearly 1/3 of the population of this country, they are told that they are going to see no doctor at all, unless it's in an emergency room, and they'll get the minimum amount of care required to keep them from bleeding to death before they are shown the door.

MattressMan 9 years, 8 months ago

I think the city is self insured and only uses a health insurance provider as a plan administrator so I'm not sure what effect the clinic would have overall. As for health care access the idea behind these clinics are to be in and out without minimal loss time on the job and from what I know of it Health Care Access is usually a wait to get in. Also they're supposedly cramped for space the way it is. They City does I believe own the building they are in though.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps Health Care Access and the city could help each other. No Harm in examining the concept.

Bob Forer 9 years, 8 months ago

"view this as an attempt to control our tax burden. I hope it works: if not, at least we are making an effort."Nothing wrong with controlling our tax burden. But there is a right way and a wrong way of going about it.

cowboy 9 years, 8 months ago

there needs to be alot more discussion of this. The only reason the city wants it's own clinic is for potential cost controls. Reduce the amount of paid time off for doc visits , and to send the Work comp claims thru the city doc to control costs and work time lost.Now , if you have a doc you like do you have to go to the "company" doc ?Or if your on a comp claim do you have to see the company doc ?I can tell you for sure the company doc will be less qualified than a private practicioner , will have conflicting goals , and will not have the complete medical histories that your own doc would have. Sounds like a frgging bad idea to me , just another way to waste taxpayers money. And why is it even being discussed ? Will the morons on the commission and the overpaid city staff put a freeze on anything new until you have an operation budget surplus. And quit milking our sewer and water rates to fund all of these whim projects !

usesomesense 9 years, 8 months ago

I would expect the City is probably jumping on 'being first' again without really looking at the big picture.In order for this to realistically save money the city would have to reduce it's employee coverage on regular insurance costs more than the cost of the program.If the city self-insures then the increased costs are simply associated with the rising cost of providers and/or increasing age/decreasing health of their own workforce.The real question is if there were over $225,000 in health care costs last year that could have been done through the proposed clinic (at no more cost than the proposed startup cost). If so the next question becomes how to get employees to go there instead.This type of program is really more beneficial to organizations that don't insure their entire workforce - either because employees don't want to pay their portion of insurance premiums or they employ part time staff that the benefits aren't extended to. Those employees don't have much (if any) sick pay benefits and truly can't afford to go to a doctor. It's a great way for a larger company bridge the gap somewhat and increase their productivity and employee satisfaction.

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