In 2009, when the economic crisis settled in, local nonprofit Evansville ARC, which has served physically and mentally disabled children and adults since 1954, found itself in a financial dilemma. “The fact is,” says president Deidra Conner, “we’re running a business and expenses go up. It was becoming harder and harder to manage our budget.” One of the biggest financial burdens was the cost of employee health care. “We were at a breaking point,” she says. “We had to decide what we were going to do.” To the rescue: Tri-State Community Clinics.
The medical company had barely started when Conner approached CEO Joseph Neidig about offering employee health care with an on-site medical clinic. Just like a doctor’s office, the clinics include an intake room (where blood pressure and blood tests are given), a medication room, an exam room (more than one of each depending on a company’s size and needs), and of course, physicians. Employees stay at work for their appointments. The convenience sounded promising, but what resonated with Conner was its cost-effective approach.
A visit to an on-site clinic costs the employer far less than when an employee sees his or her personal physician or a specialist, because Tri-State Community is able to pay for medications and lab work at a wholesale rate rather than retail. Typically, there are no out-of-pocket costs — no co-pays, no deductibles, no prescription bills — for employees and their dependents, although some employers can opt for a small payroll deductible. The idea is that by having a convenient and free place to get health care, employees will be more likely to monitor their health with assessments, illness and injury treatment, and disease prevention, which results in fewer emergency room visits and hospital stays. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 95 percent of U.S. health care costs are for reactive purposes; only 5 percent is proactive. On-site clinics aim to flip those numbers.
In 2011, after three years of offering the clinic, ARC’s total employee health care costs were lower than they had been eight years prior. “I feel like it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made during my 10 years here,” Conner says.
Tri-State Community Clinics also offers programs and health coaching for employees, tailoring the programs to fit the needs of the company. Dr. Chad Perkins, chief medical officer with Tri-State Community, says it’s important to consider the demographics that make up a business. “We try to identify the particular risk factors they have in an employee population,” he says. “Are they particularly overweight? Are there a lot of smokers? If you’re dealing with a workforce that’s predominantly older males, there’s perhaps going to be a set of circumstances — whether it be prostate problems, hypertension, or high cholesterol.” Customized incentive programs — such as a “biggest loser” competition or a smoking cessation program — promote camaraderie among employees, ultimately creating a healthier workforce.
Since it launched in January 2010, Tri-State Community now provides clinics in five area businesses — Evansville ARC, Anchor Industries, Flanders, Elmer Buchta Trucking, and A & A Metal Products, Inc. — and several more companies are in the planning process.