Summit County sees success with miCare clinic in Frisco
April 12, 2011
After being open for over a year, the miCare Clinic in Frisco is reporting positive results for both participation and costs, launching talks about the possibility of expanding hours, and maybe even locations at some point.
The clinic was opened in Jan. 2010, in response to increased growth in Summit County Government health plan expenses. The clinic serves county government employees and their dependents – about 815 people – and offers affordable, exclusive health care aimed at identifying health risks and encouraging wellness.
Assistant county manager Scott Vargo said the clinic was created to try to reduce increasing health plan expenses by focusing on preventative care. He said the smaller clinic has “a more personal approach” which allows medical professionals to spend more time identifying any risks patients might have.
“Long term, we address chronic conditions a person might have so we don’t end up with a major medical event,” he said. “Instead, we’re working with them on appropriate medications, better diet and exercise plans.”
Steve Martin, animal control supervisor at the Summit County Animal Control and Shelter, said he’s only been there once for a physical, but had a good experience, and is glad the option is available to him and his wife. He said it’s easy to get an appointment, and convenient since most generic prescriptions are already in-house.
According to a recent report chronicling the facility’s first year of operation, use of the clinic was greater than expected, with 88.7 percent of available appointments filled in 2010 and 102.7 percent filled in the fourth quarter. The short-term goal for the clinic was to cover its own costs; operating costs for the first year were $320,000, while reported avoided costs are estimated to total between $335,000 and $410,000. Over 80 percent of clinic participants used the clinic in 2010, and nearly 50 percent of participants had improvements in screening results in the past year.
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Because of the clinic’s utilization and success so far, the county is considering expanding hours and initiating talks with other entities about participation, Vargo said. Currently, the clinic is only open 20-24 hours a week.
“If we were able to partner with someone and expand the clinic to working 40 hours throughout the course of the week, it makes it more accessible to our group as well as the new people being added to the mix,” Vargo said.
So far, Vargo said county officials have spoken with some of the local governments – Breckenridge, Frisco, Silverthorne and Dillon – about potential interest in partnering. He said there’s always been some level of interest from the towns wanting to know how the clinic was working out, but the county wanted to get the facility up and running before talking with anyone about the possibility of collaboration.
Vargo said the county would charge a fee to any entities it partnered with, which would pay for additional hours associated with the clinic’s operating costs. The county, and several of the towns, are self-insured, which Vargo said is the easiest health plan model for the clinic to work with.
“They’ve all been at least interested in discussing it, but we haven’t gone any further than that,” Vargo said. “Our idea is to begin those conversations with the towns within the next couple of months.”
Vargo mentioned the possibility of eventually expanding to a Breckenridge location, although it’s currently just a far-off idea.
He said the county doesn’t have enough health plan participants to support two separate facilities, and would have to be partnered up to make it financially viable.
“If that were the case, both the clinics would likely be opened up to employees or health plan participants from whatever groups we’ve pulled together,” he said. “That’s down the road a little ways, but it’s something we certainly would consider.”
The current clinic is located in Frisco’s County Commons, at the former community clinic site. Vargo said a building and grounds facility behind the Summit County Courthouse in Breckenridge – owned by the county and currently being used for storage – is a possibility if there was ever going to be a new location.
“That’s one idea within the county’s control that’s been considered,” he said.