Board OKs $1.2M for employee health clinic
by Jon Gillooly
August 28, 2013 12:20 AM | 1457 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — The Cobb Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously agreed to pay Charlotte, N.C.-based Healthstat Inc. about $1.2 million a year to manage a health clinic for county employees and their dependents.

The clinic, which will be based out of the county’s government services center off Powder Springs Road, is similar to one the city of Marietta operates.

County Chairman Tim Lee said projected savings from the clinic are believed to more than pay for its cost.

“It’s like going to a restaurant and buying the steak versus going to the store and buying a steak,” Lee said. “You cook it yourself at your own home, it’s going to be a less expensive total meal than if you went to the restaurant. This is the same thing. If you go to the ‘doc in the box’ or an emergency room or somewhere else you’re going to have a higher expense, but if you have your own system, which is what this provides to us, the cost to us is going to be less overall.”

The approved contract is for three years, with an option for two, one-year renewals.

In 2010, the Marietta City Council agreed to fund a clinic for its employees as a benefit for the 695 city employees, their 1,121 dependents, as well as 255 retirees and their 121 dependants. It does not replace their existing health insurance, but serves as an added option.

Located in a city-owned building on Lawrence Street by City Hall, the clinic, which the city pays CareHere of Tennessee about $34,000 per month to operate, functions like a primary care provider, handling everything from physicals to infections. It’s staffed with two physicians, two nurse practitioners and one LPN.

The city is self-insured, with a health plan that is administered through Blue Cross Blue Shield. Therefore, it pays participants’ claims. City Manager Bill Bruton has said the cost to visit a doctor through the clinic is less expensive than a similar doctor’s visit through the marketplace because the clinic’s costs are lower, with less overhead and paperwork. Marietta spent $8.1 million on health care services for employees and retirees in 2012. Without the clinic, it would have been more than $8.5 million, Bruton said.

The county government spent $40.6 million on direct health care service in fiscal 2012. The county’s health plan, as of last fall, covered 3,844 employees, 1,016 retirees and about 6,200 dependents.

No co-pay will be charged for county employees or their dependents who visit the clinic.

“There will be a limited number of prepackaged generic medications available and those are planned to be dispensed at no charge,” said Tony Hagler, the county’s human resources director.

The clinic will be staffed with one doctor and two nurse practitioners along with clinical support staff.

Hours and days of operation have yet to be determined, although it is expected to begin accepting patients within 150 days.

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