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ATLANTA-Delta Air Lines' newest tool to fight the rising cost of workers compensation claims is an occupational health clinic to be built this year near Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta.

The 11,600-square-foot health center, which is being planned in cooperation with Delta's health insurer, CIGNA Health Care Inc., will be staffed by Emory University doctors.

The center is being built by Delta on land it already owns and will be leased to CIGNA, which will operate the clinic for employees of Delta and other airlines with CIGNA plans. It will be staffed by a full-time medical team of four, including internal medicine physicians for primary care and occupational medicine specialists. Sub-specialist physicians such as dermatologists also will staff the clinic on a part-time basis, and dentists, a pharmacy, rehabilitation services, laboratory and X-ray facilities also will be available.

The main motivation to build the center was high workers compensation costs, said Dr. Cris Bisgard, director of health services for Delta. As more injured employees are treated at Delta's center, the airline will be able to precisely track its capitated occupational health expenses instead of being at the mercy of Georgia's workers comp fee schedule for providers, he said.

The clinic is expected to save the company $2 million a year in health care expenses, Dr. Bisgard said, mainly through workers comp savings.

The clinic, which is to open in May, will provide primary care to workers at any airline that has a CIGNA contract. Occupational medicine services will only be available to Delta employees at first but, if successful, could be made available to employees of other airlines as well, Dr. Bisgard said.

Having a medical facility that brings the insurer, provider and employer together will greatly ease the burden on workers when filing workers comp claims, he said. "Many employees injured on the job really don't understand who you have to call, what forms to fill out, what to do," he said. "This kind of approach makes it extremely simple."

Robert Kazel

ARLINGTON, Va.-Union workers at Bell Atlantic Corp. would get new company-paid preventive care and wellness benefits-including annual visits to an obstetrician/gynecologist, mammograms, well-baby care, routine physicals, immunizations and routine eye and ear screenings-under a tentative three-year accord disclosed last week.

A vote on the pact will be taken in about a month by the 34,000 Bell Atlantic employees in the Communications Workers of America. They had been working without a contract since August (BI, Aug. 14, 1995).

Employment security plays a major role in the accord, which also includes wage increases of 10.6% over three years, a $1,500 ratification bonus and team-based incentives of up to 5% of base wages, with no base wages at risk.

A 4% increase in company contributions to its defined benefit plan for current retirees and a 12% increase over three years for current employees when they retire.

A new senior managed care plan that will begin in 1998 for dependents and retirees who retired after 1989 and are 65 or older. The plan, while still in the early stages of development, will include a Medicare risk health maintenance organization and will require an out-of-pocket fee for retirees. Currently, all retirees have the same managed care plans and pay no premiums, only small out-of-pocket costs.

Adoption reimbursements up to $2,000 for children under 18.

An accelerated death benefit option allowing terminally ill patients to receive advance payment of half the face amount of their life insurance with a minimum of $10,000 and maximum of $250,000.

Sally Roberts