One Company Containing Healthcare Costs with Wellness Programs

A recent Smart Brief article highlights how one family-owned company, Sunnen Corp., has contained healthcare costs. The company “based in the St. Louis area, has an on-site wellness clinic for its 465 employees, along with wellness programs that have helped keep health care costs at about the same level since 2009.”

The Post Dispatch article quoted by the brief states that “Many large U.S. companies have created employee wellness programs of various kinds in recent years, and a growing number of midsize and even smaller firms also are instituting such programs. Some of these efforts are led by insurance carriers in hopes of reducing costly medical claims…But researchers have reported varying results from such efforts.”

Lee Holmes, Sunnen’s director of human resources, says that “his company is beginning to reap the benefits of preventive health. He attributes his company’s health savings to its wellness initiatives, including its in-house clinic, activities that encourage healthy lifestyles, and employee discounts on smoking-cessation programs.”

“Since 2006, Sunnen has offered an on-site medical clinic for its employees. It is open during work hours, and staffed mainly by a medical assistant. Either a doctor or nurse practitioner shows up once a week. A chiropractor also visits once a week, Holmes said. It costs $90,000 a year to operate the clinic, he said, but Sunnen saves about $200,000 a year in avoided visits to doctors’ offices…Those with chronic diseases are referred to private primary physicians and specialists, but the clinic helps monitor workers’ blood pressure and cholesterol issues. The clinic provides annual blood tests and flu shots, and also calls in prescriptions to an employee’s pharmacy.”

One employee said, “It helps me out a great deal…I actually go to a doctor now. Before, if I had a problem, I dealt with it until I couldn’t handle it anymore…I don’t have to take off work to see a doctor. There’s no co-pay…Wish I could bring my family out here.”

What has been your experience with employer sponsored onsite clinics?

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