Health Care

Garden City considers clinic to cut health costs

GARDEN CITY — In a bid to cut the city's rising health insurance costs, Garden City officials have been considering a plan to provide an on-site clinic and wellness program to city employees and their families.

City commissioners this week approved a request from city staff to seek proposals to provide medical services at an on-site clinic.

City Manager Matt Allen says officials have been considering the on-site clinic and other wellness initiatives for about a year to manage health insurance costs. City commissioners gave their approval Tuesday to follow through with the initiative.

"Let's continue to explore ways to keep costs down as much as we can while keeping the health and safety of our employees at the top of the list," Mayor John Doll said.

The city operates a self-funded health insurance fund, which means the city pays all of its own employees' insurance claims and uses Blue Cross Blue Shield as a third-party provider to review claims and provide other contractual services.

The city's contribution to its health insurance fund has increased from $480 per employee a month about four years ago to $720 a month in 2012, according to Finance Director Melinda Hitz.

Hitz said a single employee contributes about $65, while an employee with one dependent contributes about $120. An employee with five dependents contributes more than $200 a month.

Human resources director Michelle Stegman said in a memo to commissioners that an on-site clinic would reduce overall costs and expedite personal care for minor illness and injury.

During a joint meeting of the city and county in July, Stegman said the on-site clinic initiative could help the city avoid health care costs totaling $900,000 in its first year of operations, about $1.1 million in its second year and $1.3 million in its third year.