Agreement extends city worker health coverage

FAIRHOPE – County employees and workers in three cities will soon have more access to healthcare services under an agreement between government agencies, but urgent care visits will cost more next year for Fairhope employees. The Fairhope City Council voted Monday, Sept. 13, to approve an agreement to allow county employees and city workers in Foley and Gulf Shores to use the Symbol clinic in Fairhope when that facility opens. Fairhope employees and their dependents will also be allowed to use the municipal Symbol clinics in Foley and Gulf Shores and the county clinics in Bay Minette and Robertsdale. The Fairhope clinic is scheduled to open around Jan. 1, Kim Creech, city treasurer, said. “The city of Foley, the city of Gulf Shores and Baldwin County all have Symbol clinics, so there’s four clinics that we would be able to share,” Creech said. “Their employees would be able to use our clinic and our employees would be able to use their clinics. So, it makes accessibility countywide for employees.” Workers can use the clinics without having to submit a co-pay. The Fairhope council also voted to increase the co-pay for city employees using urgent care clinics from $35 to $50 a visit when the Symbol facility opens. “Currently right now, if you go to an urgent care, it’s a $35 co-pay and we’re recommending go to $50 co-pay,” Creech said. “The encouragement of this is when the Symbol clinic is up and running, which hopefully is Jan. 1, that’s where this will come into effect is Jan. 1, it would encourage our employees to go to the Symbol clinic where they’ll pay zero co-pay to go to our clinic as opposed to going to an urgent care.” The county and each city pay the cost of visits for its employees and anyone on their insurance plans. Symbol charges $89 for each visit. Council President Jack Burrell said other cities will pay the cost if one of their employees visits the Fairhope clinic. “If somebody works for the city of Foley and they come to our clinic, the cost is passed on for that visit to the city of Foley,” Burrell said. Creech said the agreement will help many county employees who live on the Eastern Shore as well as Fairhope workers who live in other areas of the county. “Speaking with Baldwin County, they’re excited about their employees that are in Fairhope would be able to share clinics,” Creech said. Symbol gives employees access to primary care and lifestyle intervention for chronic diseases and provides health coaching and wellness programs as well as biometric screenings, Mike Molyneux, company president, said in a previous meeting.