Thursday, April 18, 2024
Jamestown, West Fargo Schools establish own health clinic.

Jamestown, West Fargo Schools establish own health clinic.

West Fargo School District Plans to Build Health Care Clinic for Staff

WEST FARGO — A health care clinic dedicated to West Fargo Public Schools staff is in the works thanks to the district’s plan that hopes to save both taxpayers and its staff money.

The West Fargo School Board last week unanimously approved to partner with Medallus Medical, a chain of urgent care clinics based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, to build a near-site clinic along Veterans Boulevard, near Costco and north of 32nd Ave South.

North Dakota’s second-largest school district and one of the largest employers in the metro area dedicates a majority of its budget to staff salaries and health benefits.

To combat the ever-rising premium costs of health care, the school district is hoping to mirror the model currently used by Jamestown Public Schools, which also partners with Medallus Medical.

Business Manager Levi Bachmeier said the district spends more than $23 million in its insurance fund each year and the clinic will help the district reduce costs by cutting out its health insurance carrier, BlueCross BluShield, and contracting directly with providers to save money for urgent and primary care.

Clinic Benefits and Services

The clinic will be open to West Fargo staff seven days a week and will offer primary and urgent care, similar to what a walk-in clinic provides. Staff who use the district’s traditional health insurance plan (including spouses and dependents), would then be able to visit the clinic at no cost through a $0 co-pay and 0% co-insurance model.

Staff who are not covered by the district’s health insurance plans will still be able to use the clinic; they would be billed as if they were using any other primary or urgent care provider.

The clinic will also have a dedicated entry for district employees. Medallus will have two suites in the clinic, one for the general public and one for West Fargo School District team members. District staff would always have walk-in priority over members of the general public, while the district would be charged a flat rate fee for the services provided to staff.

In a memo sent to the school board, the district’s administration said they are confident a sufficient surplus fund balance exists in the health insurance fund to cover any necessary start-up costs.

Bachmeier said the district and Medallus will share the initial build-out fees of less than $200,000 for the clinic together. Medallus will be responsible for the ongoing overhead costs of the clinic.

Success and Future Expansion

Bachmeier added that Jamestown has had success over the last six years using the same model.

“This contract aims to keep money in the pockets of our team members needing health care services while enabling more investments in salaries through smarter spending on health care in the district’s general fund,” Bachmeier said.

He added that this benefit may also help in the recruitment of staff, as a nationwide teacher shortage continues to grow.

“We want to say to every single educator in North Dakota that West Fargo Public Schools wants you to join the District of Choice and keep you on our team with competitive salary and benefits,” Superintendent Beth Slette added.

The West Fargo School District began studying this plan in late 2022. Earlier this year, district administration as well as the West Fargo teacher’s union approved moving forward.

Bachmeier said the “near-site clinic cuts out the middleman by allowing an organization to contract directly with health care providers and forgo high volume, lower cost care being marked up using a health insurance provider.” Staff can still use their primary care providers and continue to have the costs processed by the district’s health insurance.

School Board Member Trisha Page said the clinic could eventually expand to offer telehealth services. Bachmeier added there is potential for the clinic to also eventually offer additional services such as mental health services and chiropractic care.

An opening date for the clinic has not been announced.

Source

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