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City to seek requests for proposal for an employee health clinic

By Staff | Mar 27, 2019

The city of Cape Coral will explore the feasibility of establishing a health care clinic for municipal employees and their families.

The measure was supported, in concept, by Cape Coral City Council at its Monday workshop and the city will seek requests for proposal to determine startup costs.

Anna Maria Studley, from client development for the Gehring Group, the city’s healthcare consultant, outlined the benefits the Gehring Group says it has had in other areas, with great success.

With the city being self-insured, a clinic would shift costs from the medical plan to the health center by engaging employees, retirees and family members of the plan, changing employees’ and dependents’ attitude toward healthcare, consistently focusing on prevention and wellness. There would be no copays. These things would help identify potentially catastrophic issues, such as cancer, quickly, Studley said.

This would reduce claims, especially long-term high-dollar claims and Worker’s Comp and Occupational Health claims and enhance wellness programs, she said.

As any clinic proposal would go out for Requests for Proposal, Studley could not give an exact figure on startup costs, since that would depend on numerous factors, including whether the city would build its own clinic or use an existing building.

She did say the city could see a $4 million savings in employee health care costs over the next three years.

Showing Port St. Lucie as a case study, Studley said that once a city-owned or rented facility is opened, the clinic would bring increased costs, but also greater use by city workers, making it a great money saver down the line.

Every dollar spent can bring in as much as a $3 return in three years, double from when it opened, assuming 75 percent utilization from workers, retirees and dependents, she said.

A local hospital/physician partnership would have less up-front costs, but less return on investment, which is as much as $2 for every dollar spent. An interlocal agreement would also be considered an option.

Councilmember David Stokes said, as a paramedic in Charlotte County, he has had a chance to see such a clinic in action and said it is very effective.

“It has saved our leaders up there quite a bit of money. All the physicals and drug testing we do, we go to the same doctor and same staff we had for years,” Stokes said. “We have labs going back years. Having your own building and staff seems to be your highest savings.”

Mayor Joe Coviello said he has his own private physician, as did Councilmember Marilyn Stout. Both said they would want to keep their physician, but each still liked the idea.

“It gives employees an option. It eliminates the co-pay and people don’t have to sit in the office,” Coviello said. “Getting an appointment at a private physician is a pain, but this seems easier. I really like the Saturday hours.”

City Manager John Szerlag, who brought the proposal forward, said once they get the RFPs for the project, it will be brought to council for approval, probably sometime in August. If approved, a clinic could open as early as the start of the new year in 2020.