City Finds Way To Cut Cost Of Health Care

 

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

Sometimes government gets it right.

Take Plantation.

Four of the five commissioners are up for re-election in March. I’m betting you won’t hear a lot from challengers about a bona fide Plantation success story — the City Hall Health Clinic.

The program has saved about $500,000 in health care costs since it started roughly two years ago.

Employees, their families and retirees covered by the Plantation’s health care plan are encouraged to get routine treatment at a clinic located on the city hall campus. It is operated by Marathon Health.

The program is voluntary. Employees and others can continue to use their private physicians if they want, but a majority use the clinic for some of their health care needs.

The savings have been dramatic.

The city savings include not paying physicians or specialists for routine primary care such as colds, infections, blood tests and treatment of chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Instead, employees are treated in the clinic.

There are other savings, such as a drop in employee sick days of more than 330 this fiscal year so far and a decrease in time away from work to visit an outside physician.

Employees find the clinic convenient because it is located in their workplace and there is seldom a problem getting an appointment or dropping in.  It is open two nights-a-week, although closed on city holidays.

Gift cards at businesses like Publix, BP and Wal-Mart are offered to beneficiaries taking annual exams or keeping a log of their exercise program.

Here is an amazing statistic from the clinic: The patients being treated for chronic health problems showed an average 16 percent drop in body mass, a 60 percent drop in blood pressure and a 44 percent drop in total cholesterol.

Clinic nurses proudly point to lives they saved – a woman’s routine exam found breast cancer and a maintenance worker who didn’t feel well was diagnosed to be in the midst of a major heart attack.

Anonymous satisfaction surveys have shown employees love the clinic.

Plantation is not the only city that is doing this. Municipalities the size of Plantation are ideal for this savings because many of the employees work in one location or nearby.

Unfortunately it would be difficult to do for big governments such as Broward County or the school system because the employees are spread out. And for small cities like West Park, it probably wouldn’t pay unless they combined with neighboring cities to offer the service.

I’m cynical about government, but this is an idea that apparently works. It  saves money and improves the health of employees.

It is ideas like this – a public/private partnership – that will make government more efficient.

Plantation is already doing it.  Voters need to know before the March election that there are a good things happening in city hall.

 



6 Responses to “City Finds Way To Cut Cost Of Health Care”

  1. Tamarac Talk says:

    Great success story Buddy!

    Let’s hear more cost-saving stories like that!

    Any more cities want to share?

  2. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Ft>lau is soon to introduce this benefit to its employees as well. Its a 1.5 mill kick off to start w/. The concern from many City Employees is that if they go to this clinic that their records or why they are there will be shared w/ the City Manager etc. Yes this is what they are afaird of. By the way their health ins. is going up almost 300%(you thought they hated you before Mr.Feldman). Again perfect example healthy robust say 40 yr. old who was paying 22.00 bucks every other pay period(2 in a cours e of a month bi-weekly) are now going to pay almost 90.oo dollars/ While our City Manager has his health care ins. provided free(if I’m incorrect Mr.Feldman-than by all means clarify.) See the hostility brewing. Also the reired who are not yet 65 who ar e not eligable for medicare now have to contribuite almost 600.oo bucks out of their own money(ouch). Also to point out Mr.Feldman(City man. Ft.Lau)launched early buy out where he would give you say 33 months credit(as if you still worked (sounds great right-) then the”weasel” is now telling them guess what now we are going to screw you in the obvious fact stated above. Nice huh?. (This is th e calls i’m getting-who do they all come to) Lee Yes, by all means raise the ins. but do you have to hit them all at once(300%). Then the obvoius well i’m sure you pay a heelva lot more for your ins. than they(Employees) do Robert. Apples & oranges. And this Marathon Clinic that these employees are so woried you will leak out their private health concerns-ie- if they smoke, drink are basiccly unhealthy. Then the “suits” will tell Feldmnan get rid of so and so more health issues than “Carter takes liver pills>” Need not be afaird people if this concern of yours has merit have no fear, becaus e if you can substantiate that Feldman will go backing(Hippa laws-ye s they apply to city workers Lee)and you will get say some boo-koo Christamas money. Once again who do you all come to Robert(“Convicted felon” )Walsh. Huh Larry (sun-sentinel reporter)or just call me Houdini-”worked for you for 2/3 weeks than poof he (Robert) was gone-”disappered-like who? Houdini. Really Larry??. How assine. Who has your back people.. This is why some of you railroaded me. Have no fear the ax is coming(kidding)…

  3. The Old County Doctor says:

    The nation needs to move its health care system to one based on incentives for wellness and low cost routine treatment like Plantation’s as described. They should be applauded

  4. Voice of Plantation says:

    If they are so good, why did they need a big tax increase? Can our queen bee Mayor Bendekovic tell us or any of her worker bees Tingon, Levy or Jacobs?

  5. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    Buddy,

    Thank you for continuing the discussion on the important topic of health care costs for cities and local governments.

    For the readers, recently, I also wrote a piece on health care clinics for municipalities:

    http://www.browardbeat.com/health-clinics-for-municipalities-to-save-money/

    There are many advantages as well as challenges associated with converting to clinics. As Buddy points out, clinics may not be right for every city or local government. However, cities and employees should at least discuss the advantages and disadvantages when facing current budgetary challenges and rising health care costs. For cities facing rapid and consistent increases in health care costs, clinics may be one possible answer.

    This year, without converting to clinics and with the tremendous assistance of our employees, the City of Sunrise was actually able to achieve budgetary savings in our health care costs (over projected costs) of $1.4 million for calendar year 2013. Nonetheless, we are watching closely the development of clinics in our area and the experience of other cities.

    The next real advancement in this discussion will be where multiple municipalities cooperate to develop a system of health care clinics meant to increase utilization and provide more cost effective and responsive care to employees and their families. With the right plan and the commitment by the employees to participate, clinics may really benefit some cities and local governments.

  6. John Fusaro says:

    If I’m not mistaken Mayor Ryan wrote about this for the beat months ago. Where are the naysayers now?

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