Board hears on-site health clinic plans

Plans and costs for an independent on-site staff health clinic expected to open at Stillwater Area High School in January were presented to the Independent School District 834 Board at its learning session Thursday.

“We’re planning on building a clinic similar to a minute clinic at the high school,” said ISD 834 Communications Director Carissa Keister, “It’s a cost-saving measure now that the district is self-insured. It will make it less expensive to go there than to a regular clinic and will save the district health costs.”

The district went to a self-insured medical plan in July. The district will pay all costs associated with running the clinic.

Director of Administration Cathy Moen said the district officials are currently looking at two options. One option mentioned at the board meeting is paying the clinic costs from the self-insured medical plan reserve fund.  The reserve fund was started in July and is built through monthly contributions by the district and its employees from a portion of their premiums.

The clinic is available to employees and their dependents under the district’s insurance plan. The clinic will also be available to all employees covered under a bargaining agreement regardless of being covered by the district’s plan, although their dependants will not be able to use it. A list will be provided in the clinic of who is able to use its services.

The clinic will be open five days a week yearround. Health care and 40 covered prescriptions are available in the clinic at no cost to district employees.

This clinic is not intended to be a student clinic. A separate initiative about setting up a student clinic involves talks between the district, the Lakeview Foundation and others.

“The reason we are looking at implementing an on-site clinic now as opposed to when we were on a fully-insured plan is that we have the ability to directly impact/reduce the claims paid from the reserve, by providing the services to employees at a significantly reduced cost as we are not paying the commercial “mark up” for medical related services and prescriptions,” Moen said. “Essentially through the on-site clinic, what we would be doing is paying employee medical costs up front at a direct, significantly reduced amount, rather than paying the mark up price of outside providers. This saves employees and taxpayers money as we are able to keep insurance rates down.”

Clinic construction is expected to begin on an SAHS classroom during the school year. The room will be remodeled into a lab and two exam rooms. Project bids are coming in at about $95,000, although the district is looking for ways to reduce the price

The annual management costs for on-site clinic plan are estimated at $286,000 annually. The clinic will be managed by HealthPartners and include monthly checks of equipment, staff, clinic and lab supplies, pharmacy and prescription drugs, related expenses such as courier and disposal, and lab equipment that will be owned by the district after three years.  Identifying information of clinic users will not be shared with the school district.

The clinic staff with be a physician’s assistant. Two candidates are being considered for this position at this time.

The investment is projected to pay for itself by the third year of operation. The cost break down is listed below:

January to June 2013: To operate the clinic for the first six months the management cost will be $143,000 operating from January to June 2013. Cost offsets are projected to be $134,669 with a cost to the district coming out to $8,331.

July 2013-June 2014 the first full year of operation: Management costs are $286,000. Projected cost offsets are $330,246. The district is expected to save $44,246.

By year three the start-up and annual operation costs of the clinic are projected to be covered and the self-insured plan is expected to be fully funded with an additional 15 percent run-off.

Elimination of office visits, prescription-related costs, reduced substitute costs, reduced absenteeism and the ability to do pre-work screenings in-house instead of paying an outside provider are some things expected to offset start-up costs.

Al though conversations have occurred with HealthPartners and Lakeview Medical Center, there are no partnerships in this project. Moen said the conversations were positively received but did not result in funding support.

“We are of course open to potential partnerships and will continue to look for opportunities,” she said. “At this point however we are not aware of organizations with an interest in doing so.”