School District Announces Willingness To Fight Healthcare Costs

Whether to continue with a status quo health care plan or move to something different, public school districts face social, political, and administrative considerations all of which play an important part in the decision-making process.

This school district surely went through that process. They came to realize change was necessary in order to tame ever rising health care costs because doing the same thing over and over again doesn’t work. They came to the realization it was squarely up to them to make changes and not to be left up to status quo health insurance companies………………

ACS has new health plan


ASHTABULA — In recent years, the health care budget of Ashtabula Area City Schools has been anything but well, but a new insurance plan is on the horizon, according to Treasurer Mark Astorino.

As a self-funded employer who pays his own medical and prescription claims to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies, Astorino has seen insurance claims skyrocket in excess of 33 percent in the past year for medical and more than 17 percent for prescription costs.

“Health-care costs, including claims and administrative fees, are approaching 50 percent of the total payroll budget for AACS,” he said.

That’s where Direct Primary Care, under the Value-Based Primary Care model of an independent physician, James Lambros of Harbor Medical Clinic, comes in to play.

“Understanding a good insurance plan does not equal proper patient care, Ashtabula Area City Schools has adopted the belief that there has to be a better way to provide healthier outcomes for their employees and their families,” he said. “Beginning this fourth quarter, Ashtabula Area City Schools employees will have the ability to voluntarily enroll as a primary care patient under Dr. Lambros’ care.”

Every week, Lambros will be on-site at the elementary, junior high and high school campuses, offering 24/7 access by phone and virtual telemedicine technology with hopes of closing gaps in the district employees’ and their families’ medical care.

Lambros could not be reached for comment Friday, but Astorino said school officials are excited about the partnership.

“We are very excited to implement this innovative approach to managing district health care and wellness for our employees through ease of access to a primary care physician,” he said.

Value-Based Primary Care brings back the doctor-patient relationship, Astorino said.

The physician will be able to focus on the patient and better health outcomes due to the time available to spend with each on things like diet, lifestyle, work environment, and stress since each enrolled employee’s monthly membership fee will be paid by their employer, AACS, for this concierge-style physician service, he said.

“We believe this new model will bring better service to our employees and their families and are excited to be an early adopter of this innovative, out-of-the-box approach to providing the best possible health care for our AACS family,” Superintendent Mark Potts said. “Ashtabula Area City Schools may be the first large employer in Ashtabula County to adopt the Direct Primary Care model for their employees, and perhaps only the second school district in Ohio.”

Akron City Schools announced in September its willingness to fight rising health care costs by proactively seeking to change the health care delivery model and turn their rising health care costs on their head.