Bay County School Board Approves Free Employee Health Clinic

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Panama City- The old Newpoint Charter Academy building off West 15th Street will soon be the new home of the Bay County School District's on-site health clinic. Following the school board's unanimous approval of the proposal Tuesday, district officials are now moving forward with construction.

"It's something that's a win-win for everybody, focusing on wellness," said Bay County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt.

Husfelt said the clinic is a direct result of skyrocketing employee healthcare costs. This year alone Florida Blue is charging the district more than $16 million for employee coverage.

"You can't walk in the emergency room for less than five thousand dollars. So I mean every time we have an employee that's on our health insurance go to the emergency room, that's charged against our health insurance," said Husfelt.

Once the clinic is open, Husfelt said he hopes costs will come down significantly.

"If you can get employees to be involved in taking care of themselves prior to it becoming a medical emergency, you save thousands of dollars per each one," said Husfelt.

The district hired a private company called Healthstat to run the clinic. It will cost the district about $47,000 to open the doors and another roughly $68,000 per month to operate it. That's more than a half million dollars its first year, but Healthstat has promised the district noticeable savings, district officials hoping as much one million dollars per year.

"One of the guarantees in this contract is that if they don't drop it, they'll give us 50 percent back reimbursable costs to us," said Husfelt.

According to the school district everything from the doctor visit to prescriptions will be free to school district employees and their insured family members. The school district said it hopes to open the clinic in January.

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