APNs Create Value for Employers and Convenience for Patients
Many of us are linked to health insurance through our employers. They and we share the cost of this insurance and the healthcare we receive. Some employers are self-insured, meaning that they take on a substantial portion of financial risk for the care we receive each year. Your claim form may say Blue Cross, Cigna, Aetna or United, but those big companies are not at risk for the cost of care. They are simply administering the claim on behalf of your company. Since healthcare costs have risen so dramatically in the last twenty years, employers are naturally concerned and look for ways to cut their cost or reduce their financial risk. In addition, employers want a healthy workforce with low absenteeism so that the work of the company is not disrupted.
In Crawsfordsville, Indiana several self-insured employers have contracted with Wellness for Life, a company that opens and operates free standing primary care clinics where the care is delivered by advanced practice nurses. The clinics, like this one, are located in accessible sites where the employees and their insured family members can easily be seen for preventive care as well as for chronic and episodic illnesses. Tricia Stanley, FNP, DNP is the lead nurse practitioner at the Crawsfordsville site which serves a population of 1900 eligible municipal employees and their families, three school districts’ employees and families, as well as a local bank’s employees and dependents. Tricia is also the Director of Clinical Operations for the Wellness for Life corporation , which operates 14 clinics in Indiana and one in Virginia. She and the company medical director share responsibility for the quality of care delivered at each site.
Patients do not pay any co-pay for their visits to this clinic which provides another incentive, beyond convenience. According to Dr. Stanley, the clinic also maintains an onsite formulary of 70 medications and patients can receive these generic medications at no cost. The cost savings to patients can be substantial if they regularly use prescription medications for chronic illnesses. Some patients use this employer provided site only for access to free medications and labs but continue to see their specialist for ongoing care management; others are happy to move their medical home to the Crawsfordville Health and Wellness Center.
At the end of the day, employees, dependents, and employers all save healthcare costs and clinic users have convenient access to a medical home. Last year, over 3700 clinic visits were provided and the clinic was open just three days a week. Volume continues to grow in this new site and the clinic is now open four days per week with steady traffic all day long.