There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon when talking to staff at the Indianapolis Public Transportation Corp. (IndyGo). And after years of a lack of investment and more focus on the car, the system had eroded after time, says President & CEO Michael Terry.
Terry started his career in Indianapolis at the American Automobile Association, then worked with the state of Indiana as the deputy commissioner for licensing. He also did human capital management consulting for several years in the private sector for emergency technology companies, not-for-profits and faith-based organizations.
“This [IndyGo] was actually one of my clients.” He continues, “The president at the time here was also the commissioner of the motor vehicles and we were friends working together when he asked me to join him.”
Terry came onboard in 2003 as the director of business development. When the president retired, the board asked him if he would be the interim as they did a national search. After about a year and a half, the board asked him to step into the role permanently.
“This is the closest thing I’ve done to mission work,” he says of his work at IndyGo. And he says it’s always fun to feel you’re making a difference. “I think the team, that we have embraced that they really feel like they’re making a difference in the community.
“We see the growth and investment … that comes back to just running a good business.”
Trimming Healthcare Costs
One of the areas that had become unsustainable for IndyGo was its healthcare costs. Looking at the reasons for the high costs, one was an unhealthy workforce. Ongoing rising costs, a robust healthcare plan that was attractive for family members, Terry says they couldn’t keep absorbing the costs.
“When going out to bid for an insurance company, only one would respond. So we had to address that,” Terry says. “And so we started with a wellness program.”
The wellness program was voluntary at the time and initially there wasn’t a huge representation for it. When they got into a contract arbitration, they made some changes to the healthcare deductible. The wellness program included a financial incentive so for those actively participating in it, the company would pay 85 percent, as opposed to 70 percent.
Participation was laid out in a structured format, with steps to follow. Once people got started, there is a mini physical, blood draws and individual coaching sessions based on the individual’s particular needs. “People are not only saving money but they’re getting healthier,” Terry says.
“When you look at the national healthcare plans that are going to be coming into play, most of those address the provider and the insurance companies but they really don’t address personal responsibility for your own health.” He continues, “Personal responsibility is something that is a challenge, especially in this kind of environment.
“But we’re trying to put the incentives in place and it’s almost a catalyst,” Terry explains. “We’re seeing more individuals who are looking at their diet, looking at exercise.”
There is a Weight Watchers program, classes, such as Zumba, and other things that the HR department puts together.
At first there was some apprehension that they were “collecting data to weed out the weak and get rid of them.” Trust was a major issue, Terry states. “It takes individuals who are willing to step into the program.” And they did, he says, because there was something in it for them.
IndyGo has a clinic right within its offices. Originally more of a “worker’s injury” kind of clinic, today it is a primary health clinic with a doctor, nurse practitioner and medical technician. When it was an occupational health clinic there was a lack of trust in that if you were hurt, you might be told you couldn’t work so many wouldn’t go to the clinic. Today’s clinic, of course, follows HIPAA laws and Terry says, “We don’t know anything and we don’t want to know anything.” He adds, “We want to know participation in regard to the wellness program but we combine the wellness and the clinic so now they are working in tandem of each other.”