Clinician Milad Shah checks Soda Creek Elementary School custodian Joy Clark's blood pressure at the Steamboat Springs School District's new health clinic.

Photo by Scott Franz

Clinician Milad Shah checks Soda Creek Elementary School custodian Joy Clark's blood pressure at the Steamboat Springs School District's new health clinic.

Steamboat Springs School District reports successful 1st year for health clinic

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— The Steamboat Springs School District is crediting its new health clinic with helping to curb the cost of its health insurance premiums that were skyrocketing until this year.

In a presentation to the Steamboat Springs School Board last week, the district's insurance broker estimated that the new clinic for employees and their dependents, along with a move to a partially self-funded medical plan, has saved the district $370,950 since September 2012.

Factoring in the $248,000 annual operating cost to run the clinic, it saved a net $122,950.

“I think overall for the first year, we feel good about the clinic and the impact it has had on the district,” Superintendent Brad Meeks said.

The savings included such things as $18,700 in medical office copays, $8,250 in prescription drug copays and tens of thousands of dollars in insurance claims that never were made because they were addressed at the clinic.

The district said the cost of the clinic and its current medical plan is running $98,000 below what was projected for the first quarter of the school year.

Meeks and the clinic staff aren't just touting the economic impact of the new facility.

The clinic staffed by Brooke Packard, a certified physician's assistant, and Milad Shah, a medical assistant, was able to diagnose some serious conditions including cancers and heart murmurs.

The patients then were referred to local primary care providers and specialists in the community.

The clinicians said that if they can catch the conditions earlier, it could lead to a less costly insurance claim.

According to the staff, a visit to the clinic takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

While participation at the clinic started off slow after it first opened, iPad giveways along with a weight-loss incentive program helped get membership up.

The clinic also is looking to bring in a trainer and a nutritionist.

The clinic was opened at the start of last year after the district's health insurance costs grew by 36 percent compared with 2010-11. The district spent about $1 million for health care costs in the 2007-08 school year. The district's health premium cost before the clinic opened was $1.8 million.

It serves insured school district employees and their dependents.

“I've been getting good feedback from the staff,” School Board member Rebecca Williams said.

In its first year, the clinic has done 419 lab tests and filled 825 prescriptions.

The Steamboat Springs School District's success with the facility has South Routt Superintendent Scott Mader looking into whether a similar system could be used for his district.

He said Friday that he was going to reach out to the South Routt Medical Center for some options.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

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Comments

david niedermeier 10 months ago

This article is somewhat misleading. The school district has been saving and will hopefully continue to save a substantial amount of money by having gone to a mainly self-insured model. The district now has a much less expensive policy than in the past and then pays up to a $75,000 deductible before insurance covers further expenses. This is a similar model to what YVMC has and potential savings are enormous. It is that self-insured model that has curbed the cost of its health care. The clinic has little if anything to do with that. The clinic saw just under 1000 visits for $248,000 last year. (And that 1000 may be somewhat inflated as some of those visits were apparently encouraged by “ipad giveaways.”) They said they saw about 14 patients per month with high risk problems such as diabetes, hypertension or depression. To me it seems that the clinic disrupts the continuity of care that my primary care colleagues and I consider important and at an optimistic $248 per visit it's not much of a bargain. Moreover, much of that $248,000 leaves the valley to pay the company staffing the clinic. Basically, it seems odd that the clinic is earning credit for the health care savings when in fact the majority of the savings has come from a very logical wholesale change in the approach to buying health insurance and going self-insured.

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