The ongoing rise in healthcare costs continues to take center stage in politics, in media, and in homes and businesses nationwide. Just like last year – and the year(s) before that – the cost of employer-sponsored health benefits is taking a huge chunk out of the bottom line, and the problem is only getting worse.
Business owners aren’t the only ones struggling with ever-increasing health insurance premiums. According to DirectPath, 77 percent of brokers surveyed cited the cost of healthcare as their biggest challenge in 2019, while two-thirds reported that their clients rely on them to contain these expenses.
With no new solutions on the horizon – and no indication that costs will stop their uphill climb – it’s a Catch 22 for brokers and businesses alike.
The good news? There is a solution for brokers who want to help their groups save money now and in years to come. It’s not new – it’s a well-established platform that has proven effective in cutting expenses for businesses without compromising quality for employees.
Telehealth has finally come into its own. Decades of positive outcomes coupled with an increased acceptance of digital technologies in general have paved the way for widespread acceptance among patients, providers and even the government.
Up until 2017, state laws and healthcare board regulations supplied the vast majority of telehealth governance. In the last 12 months, the federal government has created national legislation that should speed the growth of telehealth and enable business owners and employees nationwide to enjoy the full benefits of virtual care. This also throws up the door for brokers to help clients in all 50 states save money through telehealth.
The Health Care Cost Institute reports that an emergency room visit averaged $1,917 in 2016 – a hefty chunk of change considering most people who seek care at an ER are at the wrong place. They’re not facing a health emergency – they need treatment for a minor illness or injury – which can be treated via telehealth.
An urgent care visit averages approximately $119-$330 according to the Healthcare Bluebook. It’s considerably less than the ER, but it’s still pricey compared to virtual care.
Telehealth can quickly and drastically cut down on unnecessary spending. With MeMD’s virtual platform, board-certified, state-licensed medical providers treat common illnesses – strep throat, conjunctivitis, coughs, colds and the like – as well as minor injuries like burns and abrasions for an average cost of only $45. Despite the much lower cost, outcomes are just as good (and in many cases, better) than in-person care.
Telehealth is becoming the care model of choice. According to the 2017 Connected Patient Report from Salesforce Research, more and more people prefer to access healthcare remotely vs. visiting a provider’s office – and this trend will continue to grow.
Businesses and employers alike are sold on telehealth’s convenience. There’s nothing worse than driving to a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic when you’re sick – except sitting around in a waiting room surrounded by other sick people.
With MeMD, members can request a visit from the comfort of their own home (or bed). They’re connected with a board-certified physician or medical provider in about 11 minutes, and the entire visit is completed within 30-45 minutes. When needed, providers can even e-prescribe to the member’s pharmacy of choice. It’s a simple, low-hassle and highly effective way for people to receive the care they need.
A healthy workforce is integral to a healthy bottom line. Employees who can’t easily access healthcare – or can’t take the time off work to drive to a doctor’s office or clinic – may come to work sick. This means reduced productivity and presenteeism along with the risk of spreading the illness to other employees, all of which impact the bottom line.
In addition to per-visit cost savings, telehealth offers long-term benefits for businesses. By removing barriers to care, telehealth makes it easy for employees to seek the care they need to get better and get back to work.