"We took stock of the cost of health care for our employees some time ago and decided that one of the best moves we could make to contain cost was to establish a health maintenance plan and CHN, as we refer to them, is the company we selected to work with us," County Administrator Steve Bradley said. "They have a long background in providing those kind of services to businesses and to governments.
"We are taking a further step with them. We have already, based upon the information we have received, that we've saved approximately $700,000 in health care costs with CHN and the health maintenance plan we have for our employees."
The next step with CHN is an on-site clinic, located in the old Coca-Cola building on Tennessee Street in Cartersville, Bradley said, adding county employees will receive health care from nurse practitioners under the supervision of a doctor.
"We believe that has the opportunity to save us a lot of money and enhance our preventative things that we're doing with our employee," Bradley said. "This clinic will not take the place of an individual's private physician, although they will be able to go for many, many conditions and illnesses that we believe at a much lower cost than they would otherwise.
"We can walk away from this contract if we believe it is not working for us."
The $252,770 contract allows employees and dependents to receive both medical treatment and certain medications without visiting emergency rooms or traditional doctors. County officials say the service, which will be free of charge, may also encourage younger employees to receive preventative treatment.
"Our big claims come from people who don't go to the doctor, and they don't know they're diabetic or they've got high blood pressure, and they find out by doing this that they can get medication," Brown said, adding the county's previous wellness program contract with CHN, which has been effective for more than a year, covered employees only. "This prevents the big claims and that's how we'll save money.
"We're going one step further. [The wellness program] was just for county employees. We're now saying dependents too. We're wanting them to get screenings and have the blood work and see if they've got some of these problems that might prevent them from having big claims. That's where the savings come in."
Brown added that officials with the new program are looking for balance between employees who do not visit the doctor enough and workers who visit doctors for minor conditions, which is costly.
The commissioner also:
* Approved a resolution declaring certain county property surplus and authorizing its sale through GovDeals Auction Service.
* Approved an agreement with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, which will provide grant funding for an eight-week college internship position with the Bartow County's environmental office.
* Awarded a bid to and entered a contract with CH Kirkpatrick & Sons Welding Service Inc. for grading and erosion control at the site of the planned fire/EMS headquarters. Bradley said the company, which was the low bidder, would construct a retention pond for drainage on the 8-acre site north of U.S. Highway 41 and Felton Road.