Shipbuilder to create health-care centers for employees

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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The management of Huntington Ingalls Industries looks at health care the same way it looks at workforce development. “We look at the future,” says Bill Ermatinger, corporate vice president and chief human resources officer. “If you look at our workforce, we have people who have been here 40-plus years. We hire second and third generations.”

The company announced in July it will create onsite health-care centers for its Ingalls Shipbuilding and Newport News Shipbuilding employees and their families. “This is an investment in families, and that’s an investment worth making,” Ermatinger says.

The Newport News health-care center, with up to 20,000 square feet, will house doctors, nurses, physical therapists, wellness coaches and nutritionists. It also will have a full-service pharmacy as well as labs and radiology.

A Mississippi-based health-care center serving Ingalls Shipbuilding employees will be approximately 5,000 square feet smaller. Both centers are scheduled to open by mid-2015. “We don’t have a hard date,” Ermatinger says.

The company is creating the health-care centers as a way to invest in its employees by promoting healthier lifestyles. Individual health-care costs are normally driven by behavior, access, the environment and genetics, according to Ermatinger.

“We wanted to focus on behavior and access,” he says. “We are addressing behavior by providing comprehensive, innovative patient care with a focus on wellness, and the onsite center eliminates the problem of access. It’s a whole different model.”

The company has around 23,000 employees in Newport News, divided almost equally between salaried and union-eligible employees. Salaried employees will be the first group to use the new health-care center. Health care for union-eligible employees is dictated by a contract “that has to go through the bargaining process,” Ermatinger says.

Salaried employees and their dependents will pay $15 for each visit to the health-care center. “There is no co-pay and no deductibles, etc.,” says Ermatinger. “This is an additional choice they have. We also offer a health-care plan, and you can intermix the two. It’s not exclusive. You don’t have to take one over the other.”

The company also has rolled out a telemedicine program called Teladoc.

The program allows em­­ployees to talk to physicians by telephone or Skype 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for $10 a visit. That service is in addition to the health-care centers and the regular health plan. “We now have three avenues for employees,” Ermatinger says.

The company is looking at various sites for the health-care centers and has awarded a contract to Wisconsin-based QuadMed to manage them. “They will definitely be very close to our shipyards, just outside the gate because dependents have to have access to them,” Ermatinger says.

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