Year after year, the cost of medical insurance increases, cutting deeply into businesses’ bottom lines and stealing a larger and larger share of employees’ take-home pay. The issue has become untenable: According to Kaiser Family Foundation, 90% of top executives of large businesses said costs are excessive and the healthcare spending burden would become unsustainable in the next five-to-10 years.
It’s no wonder: As of 2020, premiums had increased 55% in the last 10 years – a rate at least twice that of inflation (19%) and wages (27%).
The issue truly is pressing, but there is a solution for companies seeking to provide robust health benefits their employees want and need.
The Expanding Role of Telehealth
The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way Americans access healthcare. Today, telehealth has become an indispensable part of the nation’s healthcare system and a preferred means of accessing care – and its scope is expanding dramatically.
Virtual primary care is telehealth’s next and most important evolution. It cuts healthcare costs dramatically, boosts workforce productivity, supports retention and connects employees with important health services – all while meeting employees’ demands for ease, convenience, safety and quality.
Anticipating the demand for virtual primary care, telehealth providers nationwide have rushed solutions to market. They all claim the same basic benefits, so how do you choose the right partner in this sea of sameness?
Delivering Primary Care – Virtually
A comprehensive virtual primary plan isn’t much different from traditional, in-office care, but it’s far more convenient, accessible and cost-effective.
A good plan should cover all of the services you expect from a brick-and-mortar primary care provider, including:
- Annual wellness visit
- Routine follow-up appointments
- Ongoing management of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure
- Prescription discounts
- Referral process that connects members with necessary specialist care
- 24/7 urgent care for common illnesses and injuries
The plan also should provide these in-person services (arranged on members’ behalf through partner labs and clinics):
- Physical examinations
- Routine screenings such as colonoscopies, cholesterol checks, prostate exams and urinalysis
- Routine vaccinations
Last, a good virtual primary care program makes it easy for members to connect with top-quality care:
- State-licensed, board-certified providers who specialize in emergency medicine, internal medicine or family practice
- Access to primary care during the workday, after hours and on weekends
- 24/7 access to urgent care providers for common illnesses and injuries
- Ongoing monitoring of patient outcomes and member satisfaction to ensure high-quality care
- High patient satisfaction scores
How Virtual Primary Care Cuts Costs
Beyond the ease and convenience of virtual care, it’s well reported that telehealth is considerably less expensive than in-person care. Consider the following criteria in choosing a partner for virtual primary care:
Clear and Competitive Pricing:
You want a partner that provides comprehensive primary and preventive care, a clear list of services and straightforward pricing so you can understand and anticipate the cost-savings.
Immediate Cost Savings:
Virtual primary care visit fees are dramatically lower than traditional primary care, so businesses should save money every time an employee chooses telehealth over an in-person visit. Virtual primary care visits also won’t go against a company’s health claims, which will save money at renewal time. Plus, a telehealth partner can provide additional cost savings to the employer and employee alike via prescription discounts.
Saving money is important – but how do you quantify the savings? Your partner should provide regular reporting that offers a clear look at how your company’s telehealth program is performing, from utilization across the workforce and redirection cost savings to overall ROI for the business.
Savings Over Time:
While not immediately measurable, primary care is directly linked to better health outcomes and lower costs over time. Providers can identify health problems early on and intervene before serious and costly issues arise.
Chronic Disease Management:
Primary care providers play an important role in the management of patients with chronic diseases, improving outcomes for patients while also mitigating health expenditures. This is important, as five chronic diseases or risk factors – high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking and physical inactivity – cost U.S. businesses $36.4 billion a year in employee absenteeism, according to the CDC.