Steamboat School Board backs health care clinic

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— Faced with the malady of rising health care costs, the Steamboat Springs School District is moving forward with a plan to soon add to their district a health clinic that would serve as an additional benefit for their employees and hopefully rein in the price of their health insurance.

Superintendent Brad Meeks told his School Board on Monday night that the district now is working to narrow down a list of vendors that would launch and manage the clinic, which he hopes to have up and running by July 1, from three to one.

“We are excited about this proposal,” Meeks said.

He said the clinic should lower health insurance premium costs in the school district, which increased by 23 percent this school year, by reducing the number of insurance claims filed each year by district employees.

The school district is paying approximately $1.6 million for health insurance premiums this school year, said Dale Mellor, the district’s finance director.

Mellor said the district, which has about 450 insured employees and dependents, pays as much as $493 in health care related costs each month per full-time employee.

Meeks said he plans to staff the clinic with a local general practitioner and stock it with 30 to 40 common prescriptions made available to employees at little or no cost. He added the plan is for the facility to operate 16 hours per week.

“The clinic is not intended to replace someone’s primary health care physician,” Meeks said. “It will be set up for more episodic events like colds, sore throats and other minor illnesses.”

He said the district intends for the clinic to be available to insured district employees at no cost. Mellor said the district will absorb the cost of launching the clinic, and the district expects savings generated by the operation to cover and surpass its initial cost.

Administrators are eyeing at least 300-square-feet of space currently used as a custodial storage and office area in the George P. Sauer Human Services Center as a potential site for the clinic.

Board support

School Board members were supportive of the clinic Monday night, calling it an innovative and beneficial proposal.

“I remember waiting and waiting to see a doctor because of the rising costs” of health care, board member Rebecca Williams said as she recalled her time as a teacher at Steamboat Springs High School. “But if it’s cheaper and it’s more convenient to see a doctor (in the clinic), you’re going to take care of (a medical problem) sooner.”

Board President Brian Kelly agreed and said the clinic has the potential to increase the well-being of district employees.

“I think this is a great idea,” he said. “I think preventative care can sometimes be underestimated, and if we can set up a local clinic that provides a lot of preventative care or catches illnesses and viruses sooner, it’s going to save the district a lot of money.”

Administrators said another purpose of the clinic will be to allow teachers to easily schedule a 20- to 30-minute appointment without having to sacrifice part of their workday to have a routine checkup.

“Year after year, our costs for health insurance have gone up, and it’s cutting into the lifestyles of our employees and what we can do to help,” Human Resources Director Judy Harris said. “We’re really working on helping our employees develop a wellness plan to continue to stay healthy.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

This will make our kids smarter how?

Read Jonathan Gruber's latest. The MIT and Harvard grad was advisor to Clinton, Edwards and Obama. Washington post called him "the most influential health-care expert".

One of the biggest assumptions about Obamacare was that controlling costs through stopping waste, fraud and abuse would bend the cost curve downward. This phenomenon (and I call it that because government reducing costs is not something we regularly witness) is failing to materialize. This years expected $50 billion savings actually added up to less than ONE TENTH of that!

Gruber is now reversing his expectations DOWNWARD. The cost curve in health-care will never turn downward. NEVER... NEVER... never.

Obamacare supporters have no clue. They have no basis for their "hope' and no reasonable expectation for "change".

Why do taxpayers continue to throw good money after bad into ratholes like government healthcare? Probably because they are a product of government education.

P. T. Barnum described them well when he said "There's a sucker born every minute."

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housepoor 2 years, 9 months ago

Maybe the district should investigate partnering with other major employers in town?

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NamVet 2 years, 9 months ago

Sled when you are at Coulter's hate fest ask the audience how many of them or their parents are on Medicare. Ask if they want to get rid of it and go on the Republican health plan which is "Die Quickly". Obamacare as you put it doesn't fully go into affect till 2014. If Romneycare which is Obamacare is any indication of how it will be received it should have a positive affect.
The health plan that our teachers have in Steamboat is pretty poor even when you compare it to any company or even Medicare. When you have pay out of pocket $10,000 on their salaries to have a baby in this town shows you how poor a plan they have. I had better health coverage in the military which by the way is a government plan as is Medicare and Tri-Care. According to you every ill in this country was caused by Obama in less than 3 years. Where the hell were you from 2001-2009 when our country was run off a cliff by the so called Conservatives. Just compare Bush's first day in office to Obama's. Who got screwed? You can blame him for not fixing the mess in 3 years but you can't blame him for causing it which took 8 years.

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

Nam, Many times in this blog I have stated my opinion that the ills of this nation go way deeper and much farther back than Obama and that they span the pollitical establishment from right to left. At our last communication in "Omar Campbells "Ship of State" you had NOT ONE coherent, intelligent reply to my 8 point rebuttal of the statement you directed AT ME... NOT ONE! Even though I DIRECTLY stated in point #5 "we agree that Bush was a failure. I didn't vote for him." but did you take note of that? NO! Here you are again accusing me of "According to you every ill of this country was caused by Obama..." You simply don't read or you are intentionally mis-representing my oft-stated position. Frankly, I think that you are so blinded by rage whenever anyone attacks your mascot that you see nothing but red. Unless you can acknowledge the concessions I make and speak truthfully and to-the-point about my statements I wish no longer to converse with you.


RWD, You misquoted me. I said "ratholes like government haelthcare" NOT "...ratholes like government and healthcare. The "and" kind-of shoves the argument to a much broader vantage point from which you are more comfortable attacking me, no?

There is no difference in losing billions on fraud domestically and losing it in Iraq. I agree that what happened in Iraq was inexcuseable. Please take note of that last statement... What happened in Iraq was inexcuseable. I heard about the lost billions. You did hear that those billions were not ours... they were funds that belonged to Iraq that America had frozen in our banks during the war, right?

I would like to ask you a question about lost billions if I may. If we had a government that was smaller, lets say only in charge of a half billion dollars at any one time, would it be easier or more difficult for that government to lose billions of dollars in Iraq, healthcare fraud, Solyndra, etc? Hmmmm?????

Whether for right-wing programs or for left-wing programs, government can not lose money if it is not allowed to posses those funds to begin with. That alone is a valid argument for smaller government, no?

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

RWD, Can you please tell me why, in your opinion, it is wrong for America to go to war in places like Iraq or Iran or Libya, etc?

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mavis 2 years, 9 months ago

Before the board backs this... WHY don't the BACK the step movements that have been frozen for a couple of years?? It would make a great difference for most as minimal as it is.

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Kevin Nerney 2 years, 9 months ago

RWD I know a vet who three days ago called the VA in order to get some much needed medicine for a lung infection. After many hours on the phone someone agreed to overnight the meds. to him. So far nothing has arrived. So not only can't the government handle the large volume of vets needing the system (you could die of old age waiting to talk to somebody) they also don't know how to tell time or read a calender. And even if the VA did the right thing another government agency the Post Office doesn't know what overnight means. ( yeah i know the post office isn't a true gov't agency they are a private enterprise) but that's an argument for another day.

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ybul 2 years, 9 months ago

Unfortunately, the debate of health care always centers around treating illness, which for the most part comes about from something else. Where real reform needs to happen is much before the current medical system.

The government subsidizes poor food choices, those poor food choices lead to poor health.

Personally we need to go back to high deductible programs that were the norm in the 70's, not the fixed payment per visit. That tends to take the end user out of the equation in determining a fair price for the services received. Yes it does not work in an emergency - however with many procedures when I requested a price for the service they could not disclose it - yet I want to know as I carry a $10,000 deductible and it comes out of my pocket.

Moving the school employees to a high deductible with a HSA would lead to an empowerment of the employees and encourage them to live healthier lifestyles and take better care of themselves. This as extra money left in the HSA could be used for retirement when that time comes.

Those people that wait for the problem to become so bad are not the issue here. But on that issue, front range hospitals have gotten together to subsidize organizations like the VNA so that people do not wait to enter the ER.

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

RWD, Do you have an answer for my question? Why is it wrong for america to go to war in those countries?

BTW, Profit and greed have fed more mouths and cured more sickness than charity or socialism EVER will.

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

There you go again, assuming I am pro war just because I asked you to explain your reasoning.

I accept your answer that none of them are a fundamental threat to America and therefore we should not spend scarce resources on them.

Now let's apply that same criteria and logic domestically, shall we?

What threat to America exists that requires a gun be put to the head of taxpayers to finance corn, sugar, wheat, ethanol or oil subsidies or even the $2 billion paid to farmers to grow NOTHING? What pressing emergency requires that people have money taken from them forcibly to provide another person with a cell phone? Is there a pressing need for homeland security to take our hard-earned money to purchase 12 snow-cone machines and a beer-brewing kit? Or $150 million per year taken from working americans to upgrade federal employees airline tickets to first class from coach?

Are any of those things even as big of "a threat" as Iraq was ? No, but you guys just keep right on defending the folks that bring us all that and more.

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howard_roark 2 years, 9 months ago

thumbs up, ybul

market competition is your friend

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

What would auto insurance cost if we used it for new tires, replacement wipers, batteries, car-wash, etc and had NO deductible? That's what we expect from health insurance and we wonder why it's expensive...

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 9 months ago

Well, if the insurance was not for accidents, but to cover large repair bills then paying for oil changes is far cheaper than paying for new engines.

Health insurance is fundamentally a mess because statistically it isn't really covering random events, but predictable events. So the insurance companies are seeking healthy people with low medical risks and trying to avoid people with higher risks.

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sledneck 2 years, 9 months ago

That was my point. Predictable events should not be something for which people need "insurance"; especially relatively low-cost things.

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ybul 2 years, 9 months ago

That is the point of a large deductible, with a HSA, to reward people for taking care of themselves and getting those oil changes (exercising, eating right, etc.).

Those larger risks come about from subsidized cheap calories, poor lifestyle choices (smoking, drinking, etc.), etc.. Other factors involve toxins in the environment that arise from process' which externalize their costs (mercury from power plants).

Heck, it is about taking that first step to where you want to be. Trying to stop cold turkey places some in a bad position - those with very bad health. Somehow you figure out a way to help them, still leaving them with an incentive to reduce their health care costs.

We are where we are, but we would all like health care costs not to be spiraling out of control. Trying to give people an incentive for staying healthy is one step in the right direction.

The Iron Horse Inn is the perfect example of why government should try and stay to core services or things that private enterprise can not provide. They are playing with other peoples money and face little consequences for mistakes that are made.

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ybul 2 years, 9 months ago

The idea of the health savings account is that the difference in premium is placed into a HSA and used for those relatively large events. After several years one would have enough in the HSA to cover the deductible.

I also stated that it would take time to migrate to that system. However, without taking that first step - you never get to where you want to be.

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ybul 2 years, 9 months ago

Why not, that is why the premium for health insurance is so much higher for low deductibles. You have a layer of insurance company b.s. that is taking its share.

I suppose you have tried and have seen it first hand. On my back surgery, I got hosed by the insurance company. I did not know that I would face two deductibles and so while in severe pain I found a doctor I trusted and found the least expensive place for him to preform the surgery. Unfortunately that was at a kaiser facility, which was out of network. So in addition to the $10,000 deductible in network, I was fortunate enough to get to pay a $20,000 out of network deductible also.

As my premium is about $2,500/year for the plan (a family) and was able to save $4-5k/year in a tax deferred HSA. To compare apples to apples (this site www.kff.org/insurance/090210nr.cfm) says a families health insurance plan is over $13,000/year. So the difference in premium for a year covers the entire deductible. From my research when I was seeking out the information, the difference was about 50-60% of my total deductible.

Given this scenario, the fact that insurance companies actuaries are trying to ensure that they do not lose money, excluding some individuals, most will prosper in this scenario. Those individuals that fall on hard times the rest of society can come together to help them out, while we move to a more sound system.

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mavis 2 years, 9 months ago

  1. How many district employees - minus administrative staff have their spouses and dependents on their insurance plan?

  2. Admin was given a more than healthy pay increase last year to supplement their dependents health care plus a me too clause. Most people don't know about it- but it was a great boost to salary (9K) and the rest of us have been frozen for 2 now probably 3 years with the upcoming elections.

  3. How does the district continue to have money for these extra and new add ons without surveying the parents and staff to see if it is what is needed to support the children. ( academically)

Priorities should be in supporting academic growth, social growth and independence.

Is there a survey of the staff that supports this type of program, considering most staff members do NOT have their dependents or family members on the district health care plan for cost reasons. Again- how many staff members want this???? Let alone how are we paying for it???

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