In a move to save on health care costs, Wake County Commissioners are mulling opening two free health clinics for employees.
Staff is recommending the county open two employee health clinics where employees could receive free routine exams and checkups instead of visiting their doctor.
The two potential locations are the fourteenth floor of the Wake County office building and a to-be-determined office near the county's Swinburne and Sunnybrook offices. Between the two, the clinics would be open 40 hours a week during normal business hours. The offices would be staffed by a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant and a nurse. A physician would also be available for health consultations.
Employees who go to the clinic during working hours wouldn’t have to use personal time, which county staff said would increase productivity.
The clinic would offer standard services, such as routine blood work, help managing an existing medical condition or help for those who are sick.
Deputy County Manager Johnna Rogers told the Record that since the county is self-insured, it pays for all of the claims made by its employees and their dependents.
When a county employee sees his or her family doctor, Blue Cross Blue Shield handles and pays for the claim. The county then reimburses Blue Cross Blue Shield for the cost.
Last year, county employees and their dependents made about 48,000 doctor visits.
An on-site clinic will save money, Rogers said, because the cost would be less than what a regular family doctor would charge. The county would also save in the long term because employees would be able to manage chronic conditions, which eventually lead to increased health care costs.
A three-year contract with Marathon, the company that could potentially operate and staff the clinics, would cost the county about $1.3 million throughout the contract term. That fixed cost would include everything needed for the facility, including supplies and salaries.
The county would also pay $40,000 to upfit both locations.
Rogers said because the county expects to see a savings as employees opt to use the clinic, no additional funding is needed.
At the Commissioners’ work session Monday, Commissioner Paul Coble questioned how many employees would actually use the clinic. According to a survey done by the county, 85 percent of the respondents said they would use the clinic, but that was only one-third of the total number of employees already enrolled in the county health plan. He said many people don’t want to do business with their employer for fear that their employer will start collecting personal medical data.
Rogers said that just like with Blue Cross Blue Shield, the county will get aggregate data from Marathon, but nothing specific to a particular employee. All potential vendors told county staff that the first year is often slow, but participation increases as the program continues.
Commissioners will vote on the Marathon contract at their next meeting April 15.