By Robert Annis
Following the lead of other Hamilton County cities, Carmel will likely open an employee health clinic in the first half of next year.
Carmel spokeswoman Nancy Heck said Wednesday the city continues to negotiate with potential service providers.
City Councilor Luci Snyder said officials studied other municipalities’ clinics, noting the potential cost savings for both local taxpayers and employees. “Governing” magazine recently estimated employee health care costs can take up to 15 percent of a local government’s budget.
“We’re always looking for ways to drive our costs down,” Snyder said. “If this saves (the city) and taxpayers money, why not do it?”
Fishers spokeswoman Maura Leon-Barber said the cost savings was “significant” for her town and its employees, who hadn’t seen an insurance premium increase in the last two years. Early estimates pegged Fishers’ savings to be about $1.3 million over three years.
Noblesville has also seen the benefits of its on-site clinic. According to an e-mail sent by city spokeswoman Cara Culp, the city saved more than 60 percent a year on prescription drugs in 2011 and a whopping 92 percent on lab costs.
Hamilton County has an employee clinic as well, but estimated cost savings weren’t available at this time.
Carmel’s proposed clinic would be free to employees and any relatives on their insurance plan. Generic and common medications would also be free. However any major illnesses or injuries would be referred to a hospital or other care provider, with insurance paying a percentage of the cost.
By cutting insurance companies out of basic preventative care and health maintenance, most clinics can save municipal governments up to 30 percent on health-care costs.
Leon-Barber spoke highly about the Fishers clinic, which opened in 2009 and is operated by the Indianapolis-based Novia Care Clinics. Novia operates 50 similar clinics throughout Indiana, including clinics for Evansville and Cass County employees.
Snyder had hoped the clinic would locate in the Shapiro’s Deli building on Range Line Road, but said the likely spot would be in another city-owned building on Carmel Drive.
The city is also considering joining other members of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns in an expanded insurance pool in an effort to hold down ever-rising health-care costs, Snyder said.