Why Public Sector Employers Should Consider Employee Health Centers
Local governments and public school boards across the country are investing in health and wellness centers to serve their employees. The centers are designed so that employees like firemen, policemen and teachers can get the care they need to stay healthy. Meanwhile, it turns out that health centers that are dedicated to public servants save taxpayers a lot of money. And they do it the old fashioned way - the “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” way.
Take our clinic in City of Lakeland, Florida for example. In its first year, it saved the city $1M. By year 9, the savings were up to $7M and growing. In Waukesha, Wisconsin, the City, County and School District pooled resources to open a shared clinic site. They hoped to save just under a half million dollars in their first year. Instead, the Waukesha clinic saved over 5x the expected amount when it opened. When Waukesha saw $2.7M savings in a year, surrounding public employers took notice.
Municipal employers should consider their own health centers because healthier people are great for the budget.
How Does it Work?
Local governments and public school boards provide insurance coverage for their employees. They already pay most of the cost for employees to access healthcare. But local primary care practices can have long waits to get an appointment. And the appointment itself may take half a day when you consider drive time and the wait in the doctor’s office. The hours at the local doctor's office aren’t typically designed to accommodate the employee’s work schedule, either.
The consequences of delaying care
Let’s say that evidence-based guidelines indicate your blood pressure should be checked every three months. Are you going to be able to get an appointment, get across town, and get in and out of the doctor’s office so you can get back to work? Who’s going to cover your classroom, your courtroom, or your airport runway in the meantime?
It’s easy to put off that follow up visit. And even easier to delay being seen, for example, for a minor sprain or strain. Or a little fever and sore throat. You push through it. Or you decide to go later, maybe to urgent care. Perhaps you delay so long that the emergency room is the only choice left.
Who pays the excess cost of delay?
Public sector health plans are often self-funded. Typically, they will use an insurance partner for the administration of their plans. But for the most part, they underwrite their own risk. And when the checks to pay for care are written right off the bottom line, the motivation to hold costs down becomes that much more real.
It may sound like the public sector employer would want employees to get fewer services. But the best way to hold costs down is for employees to get the right services, in the right place, at the right time. You don't save money by waiting until problems develop or get worse. The excess cost of delayed care will hit the bottom line of the insurer. And when public sector employers self-fund, it’s taxpayer money that is being overspent because of delay.
Onsite clinics are the "ROI All-Stars"
The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) finds six main ways to hold down the costs of employee health benefits:
- Change the level of benefit provided
- Manage participants' choice of providers
- Share costs with employees
- Reduce use of healthcare services by employees
- Right-source health benefit services
- Maximize the value received for the healthcare dollar
Not surprisingly, the top ROI all-star in meeting those six strategies was onsite clinics. With the right onsite provider, each strategy can be a bonus rather than a limitation to the employee.
We design our patient-centered programs to be personal and caring, and to save time and money. Employees often call us the best benefit they have through their jobs. They know that along with convenience they are also receiving top quality care. At the same time, we save their employers money on the cost of services we provide, including lab tests and pharmacy dispensing where available.
Many employers have also begun to offer a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account (HDHP/HSA). Healthstat makes this easier to manage by accepting the HSA payment in our clinics. We then coordinate with the plan administrator to apply employee payments toward their plan deductibles. Although an HDHP/HSA requires certain payments, a broad range of prevention services and wellness programming is still free to the employee through Healthstat clinics.
Our aim is to engage and empower people to take the best possible care of themselves. When this happens, health benefit costs go down, and so do absenteeism and presenteeism. What goes up is the ability to draw talented people to jobs that serve the public good.
Employees may access more preventive services when they have a clinic dedicated to serving them. That's a good thing. In fact, it's the right thing. The right care at the right time in the right place will save money. And health outcomes will improve. Healthstat guarantees it.