Healthcare benefits pose a sticky and costly challenge for employers. Their hefty price tag makes it difficult to provide health insurance even under the best of circumstances. Until now, there has been no good solution to the problem. The choices were either to significantly reduce benefits or push employees into high deductible plans. That is until telemedicine came along. Now, telehealth platforms offer employers the ability to substantially lower health benefit costs while improving productivity.
Employers are adopting telehealth platforms at record speed. A survey by Mercer, the global health consulting firm, found that in 2017, 71 percent of employers with 500 or more employees were offering telemedicine services. That’s up a whopping 59 percent from 2016. It’s helping employers to keep their benefit costs down.
According to Mercer, employer health plans have kept their cost growth at 3.3 percent over the past five years, compared to 6.2 percent in the previous five-year period. However, those percentages still represent a big price tag. Total health benefits represented 14 percent of payroll in 2017 – an average of $12,229 per employee. And that’s only going to increase. The National Business Group on Health(NBGH) expected per-employee health care costs to reach “$14,099 per employee in 2018 and rise to an average of $14,800 in 2019.” The average employee is paying 24 percent of the total cost of healthcare coverage through payroll deductions.
Of course, those increases are not sustainable. Everyone knows that. Employers can’t afford to fund the benefits and employees can’t afford high deductible plans. It’s is an untenable situation that demands innovative solutions.
“Health care cost increases continue to outpace workers’ earnings and increases in inflation,” said Brian Marcotte, President and CEO of the NBGH. “A growing number of employers are taking an activist role in shaking up how care is delivered and paid for.” That includes more rapid adoption of telehealth for their employees.
A study by University of Pennsylvania Medicine (UPMC) found that telehealth poses distinct benefits for employers:
- Drives employees to lower costs of appropriate care
- Reduces costs associated with chronic and acute conditions that average:
- Virtual visit is less than $50
- Retail Clinic visit = $77
- Primary Care visit = $112
- Urgent Care visit = $160
- ED visit= $1,454
- Decreases lost productivity
- Costs an estimated $1,685 per employee per year
- Promotes employee health
- Recognizes the need for alternatives to the current health care delivery systems
Telehealth is beneficial for employees as well.
- It saves money.
- Telehealth visits cost much less than physician office or emergency room visits.
- It reduces reliance on high deductible health plans
- It is easy and convenient. When an employee can see the doctor from his or her desk, there is no need to take time off and lose wages to wait in a doctor’s office.
The beauty of telehealth is that the best platforms offer individuals the opportunity to select their own primary care physicians and specialists. doctors can be selected by the individual. Their own health team is available to them 24/7. Questions and concerns can be addressed quickly, regardless of where the employee may be located at the time. That improves employee health which in turn reduces absenteeism and increases productivity for employers.
We understand the challenges that businesses face in trying to do the right thing for their employees. That’s why we create healthcare solutions customized to the needs, size and scale of each employer. It is possible to deliver high quality, affordable care to foster employee wellness while maintaining a tight budget line. Telehealth platforms follow employees wherever they are during their day. The holographic Omni-Series station helps employers to go one step further and create a healthcare center within the place of business. The full-size, 3D, full-eye-contact healthcare station transports the physician, virtually through a hologram, to the Omni-Series station. Patients walk into the booth and talk eye-to-eye with the physician. It is a revolutionary innovation that allows physicians and patients to meet and consult, without the employee leaving the place of business.
One survey shows that 91 percent of employers offer employee health and wellness programs for three main reasons:
- Health risk reduction
- Health care costs savings
- Productivity improvements
Telemedicine makes that possible. Not only does it contribute to employee health and wellness; it protects the bottom line as well.