March 10, 2017
The Anchorage School District signed a contract with Vera Whole Health to establish an employer-sponsored health clinic. The goal of the clinic is to provide ASD employees with high-quality medical care and benefits while limiting District and employee costs. The District projects the clinic has the potential to reduce medical costs by 12 percent over three years; approximately $13 million.
The clinic will provide primary and preventative care, a wellness program, personal health coaching, basic lab services, prescription dispensing, population health management, and referral management services. The employer-sponsored clinic will be available to approximately 1,850 employees and 3,150 dependents covered under ASD’s health plan.
The District’s goal is to have 70 percent of employees and dependents use the clinic. Incentives for employee use include no copay for office visits, some prescriptions, basic lab services and an annual exam, among other benefits.
“To keep the very best employees, we must be able to provide a quality salary and benefits package, but we still have to live within our means,” said Dr. Deena Bishop, Superintendent. “This clinic will help us take care of employees and help employees take care of themselves, without breaking the bank or directing money from the classroom to medical costs.”
District health costs have been escalating by approximately 10 percent per year, compared to general cost of living increases of 2 percent or less.
District administrators have spent the past two years analyzing and working with consultants to find ways to reduce the exponential growth of medical benefits costs. Research of similar clinics in other areas of the country shows healthcare costs flattened or declined when this health clinic model was implemented.
The employer-sponsored clinic will be centrally located in Anchorage, however location details are not yet finalized. The clinic will be operated by Vera Whole Health, an independent contractor, and is expected to be up and running by September 2017. The district will not lease a facility or hire employees for the clinic. All responsibilities to deliver services will reside with the contractor.
“This is innovative for a school system within the state of Alaska,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Todd Hess.
Other efforts the District has made to reduce expensive doctor visits is to provide Teledoc services where employees can call a physician to get basic medications prescribed over the phone and the District joined an insurance network which offers reduced costs for certain medical providers.
The Anchorage School Board approved the contract with Vera Whole Health in February 2017.