July 1, 2011

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The Doctor is In

Futura Industries Halts Escalating Healthcare Costs

Peri Kinder

July 1, 2011

Employers across the country are frustrated with the high cost of providing healthcare benefits for employees. Insurance premiums increase every year, leaving employers with no choice but to raise employees’ healthcare costs—a situation where no one comes out ahead. But at Futura Industries, not only have health insurance premiums stabilized during the last four years—this year, premiums actually dropped.

Located in Clearfield, Futura Industries manufactures custom aluminum and vinyl extrusions, and it employs almost 250 people. Under the leadership of President and CEO Susan Johnson, the company decided to stop waiting for a national solution for the spiraling costs of healthcare and took an innovative approach to cutting those expenses: it created an onsite medical clinic for employees and their families.

Prescription for Change
Opened in 2007, the Futura Medical Clinic has helped the company lower costs by eliminating expensive, redundant and time-consuming medical care.

“It was our hope that we could deliver much better healthcare for our employees and their families than is generally available,” Johnson says. “It was not intended as a replacement for traditional health insurance, which we still provide, along with company-supplied health reimbursement accounts. The clinic represents a large investment in the continued well-being of all of our people—and their families.”

The clinic is operated by Dr. Donna Milavetz, and employees can visit at any time for any reason. From runny noses to cancer screenings, Milavetz takes care of the overall health of company workers and family members five days a week. By contracting directly for procedures such as medical imaging, strep screens and lab tests, Futura employees receive these diagnostic services at “exponentially less cost.”

As a result, Milavetz says employees are getting better medical care and know the company is completely invested in their health and well-being. Sick days have dropped and morale at the company is better than ever. Futura recently hired a pediatrician to provide specialized care for the children of employees and brought on a physical therapist to assist workers with injury rehabilitation.

“I really think that this is a solution for companies to help control medical costs,” Milavetz says. “People’s overall health is declining. People are opting out of getting health insurance because they can’t afford the medical plans. This reverses that trend.”

Along with the medical clinic, Futura implemented a high-deductible insurance plan in conjunction with a company-provided health reimbursement account (HRA) to create an incentive to encourage employees to take responsibility for their health. HRA funds accumulate yearly, and unused monies can be rolled over at the end of the year. Partnered with the on-site clinic, where most visits are free, employees receive excellent care at a fraction of the cost of traditional healthcare.

Matt Mikkelsen has worked as an engineer at Futura for more than five years. With a wife and three children, his healthcare costs were going up every year. But after Futura opened the medical clinic, he has had no insurance rate increase. He credits the company with creating a healthy atmosphere—both fiscally and physically.

“When I go to the doctor, I’m talking to Dr. Donna,” Mikkelsen says. “You’ll see her out in the plant and she knows who you are. She really cares.”

Regular check-ups create a connection between the employee and the medical staff that has kept people coming back. Clinic appointments are scheduled for 30 minutes and that time is spent talking to Milavetz, whether it’s going over tests or creating an individual health and wellness plan.  

Because the clinic is easy to access, employees can stop by the clinic to get a  quick response to their medical concerns. Employees were a little hesitant to visit the clinic at first, because they didn’t understand the benefits of the facility, but now they’ve learned to trust the doctor, the staff and Futura with their healthcare problems, says Kara Olsen, executive administrator at Future.

She reassures employees that all medical concerns remain completely confidential and company officials are never allowed to review medical records.

“With a bilingual medical assistant on her staff, many employees report that they and their family members have access to quality medical care for the first time,” Johnson says. “The results have been nothing short of miraculous.”

A Holistic Approach
Johnson decided to also invest in programs that provide a direct correlation with good health such as smoking cessation support and weight loss management. Employees receive an insurance premium discount each year for participating in the company’s wellness program, which includes regular, preventative medical appointments with Milavetz.

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