Did you know that more than 2.7 million small and medium businesses do not offer health insurance to employees? As firm size decreases, it’s even less likely that employers will offer traditional group health insurance to workers.
The primary reason is cost. From 1999 to 2014 the cost to cover a single employee with group health insurance tripled. Today increasingly more SMBs are dropping group health insurance and embracing alternative options, like individual health insurance reimbursement. This means that businesses can cancel their health plans and, instead, reimburse employees directly for insurance premiums and services.
Alternative health services, like telehealth, are helping decrease the cost of healthcare for employers while increasing employees’ access to care. Studies have shown that telemedicine results in care that is as effective as in-person visits. These sessions also reduce employers’ healthcare costs – Towers Watson claims U.S companies that adopt telehealth could save $6 billion annually.
But telehealth is a burgeoning industry. To help guide you, below are 3 factors employers should prioritize when considering telemedicine options for employees:
- Offerings Must Include Video Visits
Telehealth can refer to video, telephone, or other health IT technologies. The Federation of State Medical Boards recently ruled that telehealth services should include secure real-time videoconferencing.
- 24/7 Access
Employees may require access to care anytime and anywhere. To realize the full benefits of telehealth, namely improving access to healthcare and cutting costs, the service should be readily available.
- Wide Choice of Physicians
Employees can choose what health care practitioners they want to see (given their insurance) and the process should be the same for telehealth. Each physician should have a profile with their education and specialty, as well as any patient ratings. By offering full transparency, employees may be more likely to trust telehealth practitioners and adopt the service.
The number of telehealth companies has increased dramatically over the past few years. Many have different business models with varied payment options. Below is a list of examples – although these companies do not fulfill all of the abovementioned criteria, they each offer tangible benefits to employers and employees:
Doctor on Demand lets patients see a physician, psychologist or lactation consultant whenever and wherever they want. During “Video Visits,” practitioners can diagnose issues and offer effective treatment plans. The service costs $40 per visit and the company contracts with employers. It’s available on iPhone, iPad, Android and on the web.
First Opinion connects patients with a physician 24/7 via text. The company has already answered 10,000 questions by leveraging the expertise of qualified physicians. Texts are free and users can upgrade for $9 per month to a subscription service. It’s available in the iOS app store.
Spruce helps patients see a dermatologist for $40 per visit. It works on iOS and Android devices. Users take photos of their symptoms, answer questions, provide a medical history and receive a treatment plan from a specialist.
With Dermatologist on Call, patients can upload photos and descriptions of their condition so that a board-certified dermatologist can review and diagnose the condition. It costs $59 for each review. The company also contracts with payers so that insurance companies may provide the service to members. It works on smartphones, tablets or computers.
With SMBs facing rising healthcare and insurance costs, offering your employees – and reimbursing for – telehealth services may be a cost-effective way to help them control healthcare costs. Telehealth can also assist in health maintenance so that workers are their most productive selves on the job.
What do you think of telehealth benefits? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @KabbageInc!