Waco ISD & City To Operate Health Clinic For Employees

Waco Independent School District officials are looking to join with the city — which could expand its private clinic to provide more preventive care — in an effort to drive down the district’s health insurance costs.

Local government officials said they would like to provide a free or low-co-pay wellness clinic to encourage employees who have high-deductible plans or higher co-pays to stay current on their annual exams or preventive care.

“We were worried that some of our employees weren’t going to the doctor when they were getting sick,” said Elaine Botello, Waco ISD’s executive director of human resources. “They weren’t taking care of their preventative or disease management because of the co-pay.”

The city of Waco already operates a clinic for workers’ compensation, pre-employment and return-to-work physicals that is probably large enough to use, Botello said.

The clinic’s current budget is $420,000, which the city staffs with two nurses and contracts with the private health care company Concentra to provide a doctor for medical oversight, city officials said.

The combined clinic would be open to employees enrolled in government insurance, but city of Waco Human Resources Director Gary Johnson said the logistics haven’t been decided yet.

“We’ve been told Waco ISD and the city (are) both big enough to (support a clinic) on our own,” said Missie Pustejovsky, the city’s assistant human resources director.

“We’ve got to look at doing it on our own, versus doing it together. Can we leverage each other? Would we see some savings by doing it together?”

The city will request bids from outside vendors on the cost of running an expanded clinic, Johnson said.

County input

The school district and McLennan County, which also has shown interest in the project, will provide input on the proposals.

Pustejovsky said all three entities could collaborate on the clinic without changing insurance providers.

The city and county operate self-funded insurance plans, and the district uses an outside vendor. Waco ISD provides insurance for about 1,900 employees, the city for 1,400 and the county for 756.

Botello said if the clinic is successful, government employees will use more preventive care and wellness initiatives.

The district had 32 percent of its employees use disease prevention in 2013, but the district had 103 percent claims utilization during the same time and saw emergency room visits increase.

Botello said the district would like to see at least 85 percent of its employees use preventive care, such as annual wellness exams.

“It’s important that all employees get checked routinely for wellness,” she said. “We just want to make sure that those who need to be getting their wellness (are) getting them instead of waiting until the last minute and there’s a serious illness that needs to be addressed.”

The district’s high claims amount caused the Waco ISD’s current insurance carrier, Humana, to increase its renewal rate premiums by 48 percent to provide the same amount of coverage.

Waco ISD officials plan to switch the district’s health insurance to United Healthcare in October, but want to see if a clinic that provides wellness exams and preventive programs could decrease the claims utilization amount.

“If we can get employees to go into the clinic and not have to pay a co-pay, some will not go to the doctor and pay the $25 to $40 co-pays because it’s just too expensive,” Johnson said.

“If we can get them treated before it escalates into something greater, that will help us down the road.”