As far as employees’ use of telemedicine, almost 20 percent of respondents said they’re seeing utilization rates of 8 percent or more. The increase in telehealth offerings could be an indication of companies looking to decrease healthcare benefit costs.
Employers believe the total cost of healthcare per employee this year is approximately $13,482 (including premiums and out-of-pocket costs for employees). In 2018, that amount is expected to rise to $14,156. Although businesses will cover about 70 percent of those costs, employees will shoulder the remaining 30 percent. “Employers are recognizing that traditional cost control techniques alone aren’t able to reduce costs to the point where they are no longer a drain on the bottom line,” National Business Group on Health president and CEO Brian Marcotte noted in a statement.
Companies are also looking to ACOs as a means to decrease costs. Approximately 21 percent of survey participants said they will promote ACOs next year. And an additional 26 percent are considering offering them in 2020.
Value-based care overall is becoming more popular, too. Nearly 40 percent of employers said they’ve made use of a value-based initiative through which employees receive cost reductions when they actively work to manage chronic conditions.
But are all these initiatives really worth it? And are they actually working?
Maybe not, at least as it relates to telehealth. A recent study in Health Affairs found that while direct-to-consumer telehealth increases access to care, it doesn’t necessarily reduce costs for health plans and employers. Instead, the added convenience of telemedicine visits equates to more visits overall, thereby increasing overall healthcare spending.
Still, at least companies are putting more emphasis on their employees. Through offerings such as telehealth and decision support tools, businesses are seeking to make care more accessible, according to Marcotte. “One of the most interesting findings from the survey is that employers are focused on enhancing the employee experience,” he said.TrendMD v2.4