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Companies Use Telemedicine, Health Centers to Cut Costs

Faced with rising premiums, employers turn to new ways to deliver care

Telemedicine

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54 percent of the companies’ surveyed plan to offer onsite or nearby health centers in 2018.

A growing number of large companies are turning to telemedicine services, opening workplace health centers and exploring other nontraditional ways to deliver and pay for health care.

An annual survey by the National Business Group on Health found a broad range of services offered by many larger companies designed to curb their costs.



The survey results point to an expected 5 percent rise in medical and pharmacy benefits for the fifth consecutive year in 2018. Total costs — including premiums and out-of-pocket payments for employees and dependents — are expected to be about $13,482 per employee this year and are projected to rise to $14,156 next year. Employees are expected to pay 30 percent of those costs.

“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,” said Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health.

The survey found that 96 percent of employers plan to make telemedicine services available in states that allow them — a relatively cheap way for patients to consult with doctors.

And 54 percent of the companies surveyed plan to offer onsite or nearby health centers in 2018, a share that could increase to nearly two-thirds by 2020. Employers say these centers often result in less absenteeism.

The business group also found a big increase in the number of companies that offer services to help workers make decisions and navigate the health care system.

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