Madison Co. prepares employee clinic to combat healthcare costs - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Madison Co. prepares employee clinic to combat healthcare costs

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The new clinic will serve the needs of county employees and charge lower co-pays. The new clinic will serve the needs of county employees and charge lower co-pays.

Big changes in health care coverage are on the way for local government employees, as Madison County and Huntsville Utilities build a clinic to exclusively serve the medical needs of workers and their families.

The employees-only clinic is expected to open in January, and will provide basic treatment for county employees who do not have a primary care doctor.

The employee clinic is located in the Medical Mall and will be staffed by Huntsville Hospital doctors and nurses. Primary care services will be offered, including x-rays and lab work.

Madison County and Huntsville Utilities believe going this route will increase productivity, improve employee wellness and help control overall health care costs. Employees who are sick do not have to take off from work because they can go to the clinic during business hours.

"Many of our employees do not have a primary care physician, so they are using other opportunities to seek healthcare and in many cases, they are going to the emergency room for services that should be done outside of the emergency room setting," said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong.

Those who already have a primary care physician can keep their doctor; this is just another option for county employees.

The reduced co-pays offered by the new venture are expected to save patients in the long-run. Last year, it cost Madison County taxpayers $16 million alone to cover the healthcare needs of county employees under the current program.

Officials said the new program will increase efficiency and control overall costs.

"We teamed with 58,000 other government agencies within the state; we reduced our healthcare costs there. Then we took some of those savings and are now reinvesting in our employees. We want a solid healthcare plan for our employees but we also want it to be good for the taxpayers of this county," said Strong.

Clinics such as these are popping up all over the country, as large employers try to manage rising healthcare costs. The new clinic is similar to that of Huntsville Hospital's clinic for employees, which has already proven to work well.

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