LAND O'LAKES — Four school-based clinics have saved the Pasco County School District so much in health care costs since they opened in 2011 that officials want to expand the program.
"We think there's some pent-up demand," said Kevin Shibley the district's executive director for administration.
School Board members learned Tuesday at a workshop that the four clinics, in Land O'Lakes, Dade City, New Port Richey and Hudson, have saved the district $9.2 million over the past three years. Annual claims filed with the district's insurance carrier, Florida Blue, also have decreased from 186,000 before the clinics opened to 137,649 this past year. Employees have also saved a total of $2.7 million on health care.
Administrators propose opening a new clinic in Wesley Chapel to accommodate the growth in that area and expanding the one in Land O'Lakes. They also want to explore a partnership with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office that would allow the two groups to participate and split the costs.
"I've been on the board for six years, and I think this is one of the most significant decisions the board has made," board member Joanne Hurley said of the clinics. "It's a feather in our cap."
Board member Cynthia Armstrong called the clinics "a win-win" for administrators and staff.
"Employees actually said 'Wow, you're helping us save money' and we said 'Wow, you're helping us save money.' "
In 2011, the School Board approved spending about $1.5 million a year to operate three school-based clinics, offering free appointments and medications, in addition to preventive wellness programs for employees. The idea was that the district would save money in the long run by reducing insurance claims and related expenses.
In 2012, the district saw its claims drop by more than $2 million, with per-employee costs down by nearly 5 percent. Its rates did not increase as much as expected, allowing the board to use savings to reduce the number of furlough days imposed on employees.