Gulfport leaders think they've found a way to promote better healthcare, and bring down the city's skyrocketing insurance costs. The city is following the lead of several area businesses. It's opening up its own healthcare clinic.
Elnora Overman was sick and tired of her over the counter medicines not working. So the Island View employee made an appointment at the casino's on site health clinic.
"Most of the time they can see you that same day which is really good," she said.
The visit with a nurse practitioner cost her nothing. And the medicines prescribed to cure her sinus infection didn't cost a dime either.
"That's always great," Overman said.
Suzi Bogard is CEO of Medical Analysts, the company hired by Island View to run the clinic.
"It's a huge savings for the employer. And a huge out of pocket savings for the employee," she explained.
"We're providing affordable healthcare at affordable prices for the employees, some who could not afford it before. And now, they're able to afford healthcare."
Bogard's newest client is the city of Gulfport. Cheryl Millender is the city's human resources director.
"It's going to save our employees a lot of money," she said.
Gulfport just approved plans for an on site health clinic just like the Island View's. So city employees and their dependents will have access to basic medical needs. The employees will save money. And more than likely, city insurance premiums will drop, saving Gulfport money.
"We have to be proactive. And I think we're taking a proactive measure by implementing this clinic," the human resources director said.
More than 600 city employees, and 2,000 family members will be eligible for the free basic care.
"Their families are going to be happier because they're going to be feeling better," Millender said.
Bogard calls the concept "a wonderful benefit, a win win for both of them."
Just ask Elnora Overman.
"It really helps all of us here to know we have a clinic at our disposal," the casino worker said.
According to Gulfport's human resources director, city insurance claims are way above where they were a year ago.
"Our claims keep escalating," she pointed out. "Our claims cost is a million dollars over last year's costs. And we have to do something."
The expectation is that by offering free basic medical care at a clinic, employees will file fewer claims, and insurance costs will fall.
A temporary clinic will be set up on 45th Street. Eventually the city's on site clinic and a workout area will be in the Jones building on 15th Street, once renovations are complete.