Porter County gives health care contract to Porter Regional
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent December 20, 2012 3:20PM
Updated: January 22, 2013 6:29AM
VALPARAISO — The company that’s been providing clinic services to Porter County employees through their health care plan claims their program would have saved the county more money, after the Porter County Board of Commissioners awarded that contract to another firm Tuesday.
The commissioners selected Porter Regional Hospital to provide clinic care to employees after reviewing bids from four providers, including HealtheACCESS, which has provided the service for the past several years.
Only about 20 percent of the county’s employees took advantage of the program, said Commissioners President John Evans, R-North, but the county has been paying a flat fee for all of its employees to use the plan.
Porter offered a one-year contract, and the county only pays for employees who sign up for the plan.
“That was what our goal was – to save money,” Evans said.
Don Kiger, chairman of the board for HealtheACCESS, said if more employees had taken advantage of the clinic plan his firm offered, it could have saved the county money on health care costs because X-rays and other tests could have been done on-site.
The county has been paying $15,000 a month for the clinic services, Kiger said.
“The problem was, there was no incentive. There was nothing to drive utilization,” he said, adding if 50 percent of employees used the company’s clinics, it would have saved the county more than $650,000, and if 75 percent of the employees used them, it would have saved more than $1 million.
HealtheACCESS and the Franciscan Alliance, another bidder for clinic services, came together and provided another proposal for commissioners, where HealtheACCESS would provide clinic services and Franciscan would provide hospital care, Kiger said, adding he had hoped commissioners would wait on their decision until they could review that proposal.
But Evans said that proposal still required the county to pay $1 million over three years, and because the Porter contract is for one year, commissioners can review it when it comes back up.
“This is going to end up costing the county a lot more money than we ever have,” Kiger said.
Evans, though, said it was too early to make that determination.
“It’s not fair to say we’re going to pay more money until we have some history,” he said.