These days, health and wellness centers run by retailers for their employees and/or customers have become a popular benefit and, at times, an additional profit center.
For example, QuikTrip operates several Med-Wise Urgent Care centers for both employees and the community in the Tulsa, Oklahoma, metro area. Dollar General has its eye on the booming health-care market with telemedicine and prescription medications in its pipeline. Sheetz offers an on-site employee health center and its headquarters campus in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and San Antonio, Texas-based grocery chain H-E-B runs its own health and wellness platform that offers medical, dietician and pharmacy services at seven locations.
Smaller operators are also finding ways to provide health-care services beyond basic medical insurance. Tiger Fuel Company, which operates nine The Market c-stores and 10 car washes in and around Charlottesville, Virginia, opened the CareTeam Corporate Health Center in 2019, which is dedicated to employees and their families.
Here’s how Tiger Fuel made health and wellness central to the company’s employee benefits package—and how the move has benefited both employees and the company.
Our approach gives every employee the option to go to the clinic at an affordable cost to them."
Tiger Fuel has a history of supporting the health of its employees. “We’ve long known the importance of engaging employees in a primary care model for longitudinal preventative care,” said Ryan Whitlock, chief people officer at Tiger Fuel.
In 2018, Tiger Fuel’s insurance broker approached the company about participating in the CareTeam model as an added benefit to employees.
“Large corporations like Apple and Microsoft have on-site health-care facilities for their workers, and the idea that a company our size with 350 employees could offer something similar was worth exploring,” said Whitlock, adding that the company was looking for a benefits program “that really blew the competition away, and CareTeam became a central part of that option.”
A challenge for small and medium-sized companies to operate an on-site medical facility is not having enough employees to make the venture economically feasible. Tiger Fuel’s insurance broker offered a simple solution: Team with a local and similarly sized asphalt company as partners in the CareTeam clinic. This gave both companies the ability to share costs, while providing a higher level of service to employees and their families.
Underscoring the need for a clinic available to employees and their dependents was the lack of enough primary care providers in the Charlottesville area. “Our employees told us they were going to urgent care or hospital emergency rooms when they were sick,” said Whitlock. “Since Tiger Fuel is self-insured, our claim costs were becoming unmanageably high while our workers weren’t getting access to the health care they needed.”
Another concern was how long it took for employees to get appointments for preventative care. “For us, it was important for our workers to have a health-care option where they could be seen easily,” said Shaleena Arreguin, people services manager for Tiger Fuel. “When speaking to market associates, they expressed a need for more appointment options so they’re not missing out on work time for preventative care.”
A WELLNESS VIEW
Tiger Fuel uses CareTeam as the cornerstone of its Wellness Program. For the past four years, workers have participated in this initiative, which includes an annual biometric screening and review coupled with a health risk assessment. A CareTeam provider then follows up with a care plan to help monitor participating employees’ health risk status quarterly.
“The health-care ecosystem is getting more and more confusing and difficult to navigate, so we felt strongly that integrating wellness into primary care was the path forward,” Whitlock said. “It made perfect sense for us because the clinic provides preventative care, as well as sick visits and health maintenance appointments.”
The Wellness Program helps employees become aware of the contributing factors that increase their risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The program focuses on improving lifestyle choices and adherence to medication management in collaboration with the worker’s medical provider.
“All of this aligns with our company culture of helping our employees live healthy lifestyles,” Whitlock said.
Most employees (96%) are engaged in CareTeam services because they are pleased with the quality and accessibility of the service. Employees who sign up for the company’s medical plan have immediate access to the clinic. Workers who are not on a medical plan can go to the clinic for $5 per pay period and receive the same level of service as those with a medical plan.
“We have many part-time workers and younger workers who aren’t interested in full medical coverage but still need to go to the doctor at times,” Whitlock said. “Our approach gives every employee the option to go to the clinic at an affordable cost to them.”
Employees visit the clinic three to four times a year, on average, with 24% of workers identifying CareTeam as their primary care provider (PCP). The top reasons employees visit the clinic are for diabetic support and high blood pressure checks, along with vaccinations and wellness checkups.
“While COVID-19 drove up clinic usage, once people go to CareTeam, the level of care makes them come back,” Whitlock said. In fact, during its most recent annual review, the patient satisfaction hit 100%. “They receive much better care and focus and outcomes from attending the clinic, as it’s truly a PCP,” Whitlock said.
Patient feedback is collected at every visit and shared with Tiger Fuel monthly, and all communication from CareTeam to Tiger Fuel complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Having a benefit like CareTeam Corporate Health puts our employees first."
“Some of the feedback from employees includes having to wade through a lot less red tape for appointments and tests, having access to a PCP, being able to talk about multiple health issues at one appointment, and having so many options for appointment times,” Arreguin said.
One employee noted what “a pleasure to have these folks available to help with health matters in such a user-friendly way,” while another said, “I love using the CareTeam services. The provider is fantastic—friendly, knowledgeable and very skilled.”
This model has allowed more employees access to health care on a regular basis, a goal that Tiger Fuel set out to accomplish. “To us, CareTeam highlights how important the whole person is,” Whitlock said. “The last couple of years has taught us a lot in how mental and physical health impact workers. We’re proud we can offer an easy way for our team to go for health needs.”
While Whitlock acknowledges it’s not an inexpensive venture for the company, “it’s an extremely important investment into our people. Tiger Fuel’s leadership fully believes that and backs the CareTeam program.”
Tiger Fuel isn’t stopping with CareTeam. The company plans to engage its entire community of employees with more wellness opportunities, such as a step challenge and hydration awareness month.
“We are on the brink of starting a larger employee wellness initiative that will build on the CareTeam clinic and our current wellness program,” Whitlock said.
The company will continue to evaluate its employee modifiable health risk status and develop creative programs and challenges to drive behavior change among its employees. “We believe in doing things a little bit different, and it’s paid off for us. It’s not just the same old employment market, and you have to do more to attract the best workers,” he said. “Having a benefit like CareTeam Corporate Health puts our employees first.”
Healthcare as Recruitment
Tiger Fuel realized another benefit of offering the CareTeam Corporate Health clinic: It is a recruitment tool. As the company continues to raise awareness among employees, it is also showcasing the clinic as part of its recruitment advertising.
“We have people ask about it during the interview process, which is great because that means we’re getting the word out about this wonderful benefit,” said Shaleena Arreguin, people services manager for Tiger Fuel.
Job applicants can experience the CareTeam difference during the hiring process. “We can make a job offer and immediately send the candidate to CareTeam for the drug test required as part of their employment,” she said. “We see this as an added bonus because the new employee is introduced to CareTeam and sees firsthand what a wonderful benefit this is.”