News from City Hall
City Communications Office
City of Kansas City, Mo.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 13, 2012
City’s Employee Health Care Trust makes a difference
Employee ER usage down, healthy lifestyles encouraged, lower health care rates
Emergency room visits by City of Kansas City, Mo., employees and retirees are down 8 percent since May 2010. According to ER usage data, as tracked by Blue Cross and Blue Shield, this decrease is due largely to the City providing employees a free health clinic and a health education/wellness program.
“Because of lack of knowledge or timing of the health need, many employees were taking their health concerns to the emergency room regardless of the level of attention they needed,” said Employee Health Care Trust Chair and Sixth District Councilman John Sharp. “Medical charges for ER usage are usually more than three times higher than a typical doctor’s office visit. This is fine if you have a true emergency, not when you have a cold.”
In 2010, the City worked with Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) to create a full-service employee health clinic for City staff, dependents and retirees who are enrolled in the BCBS plans.
The clinic, which is staffed by a nurse practitioner, offers a wide variety of medical services, such as urgent walk-in care, health risk assessments, allergy and medication management and preventive health services. The clinic also gives referrals to wellness programs, including face-to-face coaching, disease management and nutritional counseling.
Patients can easily access the clinic by car or public transportation. The clinic is open 40 hours per week, including on Saturdays, and has an average waiting time of less than 15 minutes. The clinic does not charge patients a copay or deductible, and during its first year of operation, clinic usage increased 300 percent.
Additionally, BCBS provides the City an onsite customer service representative who meets with employees at various City facilities throughout the year.
The City’s Employee Health Care Trust was formed in 2009 and administers the City’s partially self-funded health care plan, which includes the City’s free health clinic.
The Trust has made a concerted effort to more effectively communicate health care benefits with City employees, educate employees about proper usage of these benefits and encourage participation in wellness programs to hold down health care rate increases. In fact, the City has recorded three years of no increases in employee monthly charges for health care coverage.
“The City provides its employees and retirees a solid package of health care benefits,” Councilman Sharp said. “Our mission has been to educate the employees in engaging ways. They benefit by getting healthier. The City benefits by keeping costs down. It is a win-win situation.”