City officials are reviewing proposals from three health care providers with an eye toward opening an in-house medical service for employees and dependents by June 1.

The city is looking at the clinic, which if approved by Moultrie City Council would open four hours two days per week, as a way to cut health care costs. The city budgeted $2.01 million for health care for the 2010-2011 budget year.

The city opened proposals on Dec. 20, 2010, from Transform RX, We Care and Living Well.

It is looking toward having one of the companies provide a physician and registered nurse to treat sick employees and conduct annual health care screenings. The clinic also would distribute some medications.

No location has been selected for the clinic, and no date has been set for presenting the proposal to city council, Moultrie Human Resources Director Dale Williams said Friday.

“We had looked at it four or five years ago (but) then we had an administrative change and it kind of got put on the back burner,” he said. “I was hoping we would get it done and start it by June 1. I don’t know how likely that is at this point.”

Estimates provided by Transform RX in its proposal package are that the city would save $261,000 the first year of operating the clinic, with savings of up to $295,116 the second year and $331,231 the second year, Williams said.

The start-up costs during the first year will include furnishings and office supplies.

Transform RX estimated start-up costs of $20,000, We Care’s proposal put that number at $46,479, while Living Well pegged them at $5,771.

Living Well estimated total first-year costs of $64,277, with monthly costs after that time at $4,792. Transform RX put those numbers at $168,170 for first-year costs and $14,014 per month thereafter, while We Care projected first-year costs of $267,933 to $339,594 and monthly costs thereafter at $18,454 to $24,426.

At this time, Williams said, he is comparing the proposals, which vary in what items the companies included.

Living Well, which presented the lowest of the proposals, did not include estimates on pharmacy and lab costs. We Care’s proposal included $20,400 for medical equipment, while the other companies did not fill in that category.

The amount of savings will depend on how many employees and dependents use the clinic, Williams said. If demand is strong more hours would be added and result in more savings to the city.

Employees are still free to use other physicians, but will have to meet annual deductibles on those visits. Deductibles do not apply toward use of the clinic, which would be an incentive for them to use it, Williams said.

The clinic also could cut down on the number of employees seeking emergency room care for non-emergency health problems, he said.

“One of our concerns is you have families who don’t have a regular physician, they go to the ER,” Williams said. “The idea is that this may cut down on some of that.”

Several years ago the city instituted a policy that employees who visit the emergency room for non-emergency health problems must meet the entire $500 deductible for that visit, he said.

The city has 211 employees and about 450 participants in the health plan, including dependents. Single employees pay $36.46 per pay period for medical coverage, while family plans are $140.31 per pay period. The plan has an annual deductible of $500.

Gary Boley, director of marketing at Colquitt Regional Medical Center, said he is not sure what impact it would have on clinics the hospitals operates if city employees begin using the city’s health care services instead.

Any decrease in the use of the emergency room for minor health problems would, however, be a plus, he said.

“If it has that effect it would be great because when you go to the emergency room with a non-emergency illness, that’s the most expensive visit you can have,” he said. “That’s the most expensive doctor visit you can have.”

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