Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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August 24, 2013

joint effort

Wellness clinic aims to lower costs, health risks

Eastern Howard and Northwestern schools teamed up to launch an employee wellness clinic in hopes that it will keep health care costs for both districts from rising out of control.

They are among a growing number of districts statewide turning to the clinics to curtail ever-increasing insurance premiums.

On average, premiums rise 15 to 18 percent every year, Eastern Howard School Corp. Superintendent Tracy Caddell said.

“We’re trying to keep health care costs stable,” he said.

The clinic opened in May for any employees who get health insurance through either of the districts.

A doctor and nurse treat common illnesses, help patients manage chronic conditions, run some labs and tests and teach employees how to live healthier lifestyles.

Every appointment is set for at least 20 minutes so the doctor has time to talk to patients and work with them to treat or prevent illnesses and diseases — even if that wasn’t the reason they initially came in, Caddell said.

The districts are offering financial incentives to get their employees to use it.

There are no copays for using the clinic, labs are free and generic prescriptions are free.

“It’s a nice benefit for our employees,” Caddell said. “You don’t have to walk into the doctor’s office with a checkbook. How often does that happen?”

The districts aren’t trying to replace the primary care physicians that staff members already have.

The clinic is there as a supplement, said Northwestern School Corp. Superintendent Ryan Snoddy.

Even with the financial incentives for employees, the clinic is expected to save Eastern and Northwestern money.

Neither superintendent had projections for exactly how much it was supposed to save, but if the clinic is used at least 65 percent of the time it is open, the districts will break even.

The districts’ insurance consortiums are billed for the labs and prescription drugs at negotiated lower rates, Caddell said.

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