Hotel owner cuts health insurance costs with onsite medical clinic for employees


by CNN

Posted on November 25, 2009 at 11:59 AM

At the Rosen Hotels Health Clinic in Orlando, Fla., there's no such thing as “No vacancy.” It's located inside a hotel and run by the hotel's owner, Harris Rosen, who started the clinic 18 years ago to see if he could cover all of his employees and save money.

“There is an apprehension, a fear, an anxiety on the part of most employers to step into an area they know very little about,” Rosen said. “But we did it, and at a cost that's a fraction of what the national averages are. Why? We emphasize wellness.”

Rosen dumped his insurance company, hired his own doctors, nurses and support staff -- all of it at little cost to his employees. But there's a catch.

“If you smoke, you can't work for me,” Rosen said.

The employees have to follow Rosen's rules or risk losing their coverage. Smokers have to quit, heavy-set workers have to go on weight loss programs, and so on.

“So, there is a bit of Big Brother looking over to make sure that you're following the regimen,” Rosen added. “I don't like that very much because I'm not much of a fan of Big Brother -- any Big Brother. But I am [Big Brother].”

Chris Teague -- the assistant manager at one of Rosen's hotels -- lost a hundred pounds with the clinic's help.

“It's changed my life dramatically,” he said.

The clinic's approach does have its critics who say it's an invasion of privacy.

“The idea of providing wellness care is wonderful,” said trial attorney Jeffrey Bloom. “But, if I choose not to go to follow up care with a doctor, that's my decision.”

But it's not the critics who worry Rosen; it's Congress. You'd think with the system Harris Rosen has put in place he'd be a big fan of Democratic plans for health care reform. But the message at this health care hotel is quite the opposite; it’s” Do not disturb.”

Under the Democratic proposals in Congress, Rosen says he'd save money by shutting down his clinic, forcing his employees into a public plan, and paying a government imposed penalty.

“I'd hate to close this facility down,” Rosen said. “It means so much to all of us.”

Including Rosen, who seems to enjoy providing health care more than he likes running the fanciest of his seven hotels.

“Some of my friends will probably not be happy with what I'm about to say,” Rosen said, “but I do believe that it's a right.”

Rosen pays $2,400 per employee every year -- less than the national average. He also has an umbrella insurance policy and contracts with specialists and hospitals to provide catastrophic medical care that the clinic can't handle.