City offers new health plan to employees including free worksite clinic

The City of Kirkland is proud to announce the launch of its “Healthy Kirkland Initiative” to improve employee health and mitigate the rising cost of health care. The initiative includes a high deductible health plan (HDHP), a new worksite clinic for employees and dependents, a health retirement account, and a wellness incentive. The HDHP gives employees the ability to better manage their “out of pocket” expenses when visiting their health care providers, and pay less in monthly premiums.  The Employee Health Clinic, to be operated by Seattle-based Vera Whole Health, will offer, at no cost to city employees, primary, preventive and acute care (e.g. Physical exams, episodic sick care, biometric screenings, provider-dispensed medications, etc.), as well as nutrition and health coaching. The clinic opens spring of 2015 in the Totem Lake area of Kirkland. Employees enrolled in one of the City’s health care plans – First Choice Health or Group Health HMO – and who become eligible by attending the Vera or Group Health clinic, will also receive a cash wellness incentive, deposited directly into their Health Retirement Account/Voluntary Employees Beneficiary Association (HRA VEBA) account. 

The Initiative takes the best of multiple health plans and turns them into one, comprehensive plan – where city employees and their families will be better equipped to manage their own care and costs.    

 “The City of Kirkland work force has always been active, vibrant and innovative,” notes Kurt Triplett, City Manager.  “Now we have a health care program that also embodies these values.  The Healthy Kirkland Initiative educates, incentivizes, and empowers employees and their families to get the right care at the right time and achieve great health.  Healthy employees use less care and lower costs.”   

The City’s new plan supports its 2013-2014 City Work Program to achieve sustainability of wages and benefits.  In early 2014, the City initiated a campaign to educate employees on health care basics and teach them how a HDHP program works. It was also during this campaign that the City introduced employees to the concept of an employee worksite clinic.  

“Labor unions representing City employees were an important stakeholder in the City developing this model of health care,” adds Triplett.  City employees represented by AFSCME and Teamsters voted in favor of the program.  “The City is deeply grateful to Teamsters and AFSCME who took the courageous first votes to approve this innovative public-private partnership. The Initiative could not have happened without the support of their members.” Non-union “management and confidential” employees are part of the initiative as well.  

The City of Kirkland employs approximately 550 full-time and part-time benefit eligible employees; approximately 350 employees are currently eligible for the Healthy Kirkland initiative. 85 percent are currently enrolled in First Choice Health and 15 percent are currently enrolled in Group Health HMO.  For more information on the Healthy Kirkland Initiative, contact Nicole Bruce, Senior H.R. Analyst, at 425-587-3221 or nbruce@kirklandwa.gov.[12.23.14]