Healthy employees equal savings.

That's the message behind a plan to open an on-site medical center that would treat Delray Beach city employees who pay for health insurance and their families.

At a workshop meeting Tuesday, Human Resources Director Bruce Koeser and consultants from Gallagher Benefit Services gave a presentation that outlined the benefits of a having a on-site clinic that could treat employees for illnesses, minor accidents, perform lab and blood tests and pre-employment exams at no cost to them.

With health care costs running about $7 million a year and increasing exponentially, Koeser said the on-site clinic could bend or end the trend of costlier heath care in the future. The city could save money on co-payments to doctors under its current medical insurance plan.

"The good part is there is a saving for the employees too," Koeser said.

Ocoee, Palm Bay and Port St. Lucie already have on-site clinics. Delray Beach could save up to $1.4 million if every employee were to take advantage of the services, the consultants said.

Koeser said Port St. Lucie has been getting about 70 percent of doctor visits from city employees and they've only been running the clinic for about two years.

"Convenience is very important and it would decrease absenteeism," said Jodie Jupp, the lead consultant. "It's a different approach, an innovative way to deal with the long-term costs" of health care.

City commissioners gave the plan a go. Koeser said the city would prepare a request for proposals from companies that offer medical center services and would only have to set up shop at a city building.

Commissioner Angeleta Gray even suggested using the empty Old School Square parking garage retail space.

The medical center would be staffed with primary care physicians and nurses; and it would treat employees at no cost for visits that would generally take a co-pay by both the city and employees under the current plan. The clinic would also have a dispensary where employees could fill prescriptions for generic drugs for free. Blood test, drug tests and X-rays would all be free.

The city spends about $500,000 a year in physicals for police officers and firefighters. It also spends about $1 million in co-payments for prescription drugs.

Portia Dinkins, the city's compensation and benefits manager, said the idea is also to use the services of a wellness coach -- a professional who would keep employees with predisposition for certain diseases from ever developing them through diet and exercise and a healthy lifestyle regimen.

"We would be producing healthier employees," Dinkins said.

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