A new clinic in Salinas, Calif., could become a model for cost-effective, accessible healthcare in agriculture, a Western Growers Assurance Trust executive said.

Dave Zanze, senior vice president of WGAT, was visiting a health fair at the Cedar Health and Wellness Center on Sept. 11. The clinic is the fruit of a partnership with Healthstat and Pinnacle Claims Management.

“We decided to build benefit plans around this model, where you go to selected providers and there are different reimbursements based upon which network you choose,” Zanze said. “We see a significant savings over a normal provider’s office. Our goal is to have this be effective in Salinas. Then we want to take it throughout the geographic area we cover.”

WGAT offers association health plans to about 3,000 Western Growers member businesses in California and Arizona. Anyone enrolled can use the clinic.

Cedar Health can see about 160 patients weekly, said Scott Schneiderman, a doctor who supervises bilingual physician assistants and nurse practitioners on the staff. They’ve treated field workers and managers since opening Aug. 4.

With a full lab, the clinic can identify deeper issues than cuts and bruises, and make referrals.

“Our commitment is to risk identification and risk mitigation,” said Doug Knoop, Healthstat executive medical director.

For Zanze, the clinic is a response to gaps in the federal health care reform passed earlier this year.

“It does not steer people to appropriate levels of care,” he said. “There are huge differences between the cost structure of this facility and a typical physician’s office. … We don’t believe agriculture was really thought about when they were doing health-care reform.”

Jasper Hempel, senior vice president of Western Growers Insurance Services, said technology like Healthstat’s electronic medical record contributes to the savings.

“We cover more field workers than any other insurer in the United States,” Hempel said. “Now our main mission is to survive healthcare reform intact, which we’re cautiously optimistic we can do, and continue to provide efficient, low-cost care to our members and their employees.”