Over 25 years ago, Harris Rosen – a prominent hotelier in Central Florida with nine properties in Orlando – took a different approach to employee health care.

Frustrated by rising private insurance costs and premiums, Rosen created his own employee medical clinic and wellness program called RosenCare. The move has saved his company – and his workers – millions of dollars ever since.

Now, Osceola County School District is hoping to save too, as it switches operations of its Center for Employee Health from AdventHealth to RosenCare starting Oct. 1.

The three-year multi-million dollar partnership hammered out in May marks the first time RosenCare will manage a medical clinic outside its own company.

“We are incredibly appreciative for the partnership with RosenCare,” said School Board Chairman Clarence Thacker, who has supported the move since discussions began early this year.

The Center for Employee Health services Osceola County School District faculty, staff and dependents who have enrolled in the county’s healthcare plan.

The multi-million dollar clinic opened in 2016 but frustration with AdventHealth - the private company tasked with managing the facility - drove the school district to explore alternatives.

“There were some higher-up relationships where some conversations started with Rosen,” said School District Chief Financial Officer Sarah Graber. “It was months and months of discussions and negotiations.”

At least two public workshop meetings occurred in February and April before a new contract with RosenCare was finalized in May.

The Osceola County School District has tried in recent years to provide affordable health care to its nearly 10,000 employees without plunging into debt or raising insurance premiums.

The financial challenge caused controversy last year when the district was forced to raise rates on spouse and family healthcare plans during labor negotiations. It resulted in gripes from teachers and staff who bucked at proposed 65 percent healthcare premium hikes for some plans, including employee plus child coverage.

Making the switch to RosenCare at the Center for Employee Health is one way the district hopes to save money moving forward, Graber said.

“They have an extremely successful program and they’ve worked out many of the kinks over the years,” she said. “We’re hoping to learn from them. This is going to be a big experiment for everybody.”

RosenCare has been nationally recognized in providing affordable services to employees, including last year, when RosenCare received three World Health Care Congress Awards in Washington, D.C.

It costs Rosen about $32 million to provide health care for 5,800 employees, or about $5,520 a year per member per year, according to company numbers.

Osceola School District paid about 36 percent more than that last year, at over $74.8 million for 9,885 employees – or $7,572 per member per year.

But the school district declined to say exactly how much the new contract with RosenCare would save them – or their employees. Instead, district spokesperson Dana Schafer said the switch has the “potential to save the district millions.”

“Our goal is to reduce the out-of-pocket cost of healthcare for our employees through the implementation of various cost-containment strategies,” Schafer said.

According to company officials, RosenCare will also launch programs focused on preventative care to keep employees healthy and reduces chronic and emergency care costs for the district.

“Because our cost per covered life has remained stable for so many years and because it is approximately one-half of what the cost per covered life is nationwide, we believe it is possible for us to impact that cost in a very positive way,” Harris Rosen stated in an email Monday.

Some changes will take place during and after the transition, like pediatric services, which will no longer be provided for children under 15 years old at the Center for Employee Health.

Instead, RosenCare will help employees find private pediatric services outside the clinic.

Additionally, RosenCare has partnered with Healics, another private company, to manage the center’s daily operations while the RosenCare team oversees the entire operation, according to a press release.

The Center will close at noon on Sept. 14 until Oct. 1 while the transition takes place.