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Purdue looks to new clinic to cut health costs

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Purdue University's trustees approved plans Friday for a new campus medical clinic that administrators expect eventually will cut the school's health care costs for employees and their families.

The clinic is scheduled to open this fall on the West Lafayette campus under a three-year contract paying about $14 million to a private provider, the Journal & Courier of Lafayette reported.

The vote comes two years after administrators first brought up the concept as a way to stem rising health care costs. This year Purdue's medical plan budget is $151 million.

"We do (anticipate savings) but not at the beginning," said Luis Lewin, Purdue's vice president for human resources. "In the second year it may be revenue neutral, but we think in the third year, depending on the usage — which is really going to show the difference — we expect to see some reductions for our medical plan expenses."

The center will be available to all active employees and dependents covered by a Purdue medical plan. Primary and acute care will be offered, with patients not being charged for wellness coaching, chronic condition management and lab work for blood and other tests.

Lewin said the clinic's aim was not to be like an urgent care site.

"We will provide you with all kinds of facilities and medical services, provide you with dietitian and nutritionist," he said, noting the clinic will look at chronic conditions, pre-chronic conditions, preventative care and medical issues before they become chronic.

The university's contribution to health care costs increased by 6 percent to $10,580 per employee for 2012.

The possibility of a campus clinic has been popular among Purdue employees. A survey released in early 2011 found nearly 83 percent of 3,000 employee respondents said they would frequently or sometimes use an on-site health clinic where the co-payments, if any, would be less than the current Purdue medical plan.

Purdue's contract with clinic operator CHS of Reston, Va., is valued at $13.2 million to $14.7 million.

John Hardin, a Purdue Board of Trustees member, said during a Thursday meeting of the board's finance committee that the clinic could cause area health care options to lower prices.

"Something that brings competition to this system is very important," he said.

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