Trucking Firm ArcBest Opens Its Own Clinic as Antidote to Rising Health Care Costs

by Marty Cook  on Monday, May. 19, 2014 12:00 am  

Rich Krutsch (left), director of ArcBest's human resources program administration, and Dr. Shawn Miller, the clinic’s family practice physician.

Rich Krutsch said his company’s health care clinic is neither a quick fix nor a cheap one.

Krutsch is the director of human resources program administration for ArcBest Corp. of Fort Smith — formerly known as Arkansas Best Corp. — and is ArcBest’s point man for the recently opened company clinic. The clinic, less than one-half mile from the ArcBest headquarters on Old Greenwood Road, opened a month ago.

When it opened, Krutsch’s biggest concern was that it wouldn’t be used enough to justify the expense. The first-month results have alleviated those fears.

“It has been very, very positive,” Krutsch said. “Our goal is to have no or very limited waiting time over there. We don’t have a very large waiting room because we don’t want to keep people over there.

“They were extremely busy starting off. That has smoothed out now.”

A few years ago, ArcBest began to research how to control rising health care costs and handle the effects of the federal Affordable Care Act. Krutsch said the discussions kept returning to the idea of an employee-dedicated clinic that would be free to all workers on the company’s health care plan.

Krutsch said there are about 1,200 ArcBest employees in the Fort Smith region and a similar number of covered dependents. The question, though, was if ArcBest paid a clinic to treat those employees for no out-of-pocket fees, would the expense be justified through long-term savings and better health?

ArcBest is betting it will.

ArcBest contracted with IMWell Health of Fort Smith, a company that has opened 14 such clinics in Oklahoma and Arkansas during the past eight years. IMWell opened the clinic just down the street from ArcBest’s headquarters and installed a family practitioner, Dr. Shawn Miller.

ArcBest employees can use the clinic for no charge, and covered dependents get access for a $15 fee. IMWell officials said ArcBest pays about $600,000 a year for the service.

“They have some history here so we could tell how they operated, what their philosophy was,” Krutsch said of IMWell. “It matched up with what we were trying to do.”

Dan Parker, CEO of IMWell, said primary care expense is about 10 percent of health care costs. But spending money on primary care can save a company money down the road, Parker said.

 

 

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