Plan for City health clinic takes another hit

VERO BEACH — The city’s plan to run an employee-only health clinic received a major setback when it was revealed by a paid consultant that projected cost-savings cannot be supported by the available data.

In fact, according to the Wakely Group, which looked into the proposed health clinic at the request of the company advising Vero Beach on insurance matters, the city could potentially lose money by operating its own health clinic. Alison Pool, an actuary for the Wakely Group, worked on the report and said there is not enough independent data to accept cost-saving claims by city insurance consultant the Gehring Group.

“We couldn’t recommend any cost savings,” said Ms. Pool.  “We like to see a trackrecord so a real benefit-risk analysis could be performed and there is none.” She said the City might be taking a risk by running its own clinic and suggested “the City should look into other avenues to save money on health care costs.”

The city has been looking into running a health clinic for minor medical issues and prescription drugs since last year. At that time, the Gehring Group said Vero Beach could save $267,000 in the first year and as much as $2.4 million over the first three years with employees using the clinic instead of running up the tab with the city’s self-funded insurance plan.

Despite government-run employee health clinics being a new idea, city staff has recommended the city go forward with the plan. Currently, there are just three such clinics in operation in the state of Florida.

“In the State of Florida, the onsite clinic is a relatively new concept so there is  not a lot of data to support or refute savings estimates that are considered under the Clinic model,” the Wakely report stated.

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