Today’s health care insurance landscape continues to change with more cost-saving options than ever before thanks to advancements in the areas of technology and wellness. In this post, we share two health care options from the past that have been trending in the news lately: telemedicine and health outcomes-based solutions.
As employers look for additional ways to reduce health care costs without compromising quality, there has been an increased interest in telemedicine.
Telemedicine is when a provider gives a remote diagnosis and treatment through telecommunications, which can be a good low-cost alternative for non-emergency health issues. According to a recent employer survey conducted by Towers Watson/National Business Group, nearly a third of high-performing companies offered telemedicine in 2014 and more are planning to do so in 2015.
While telemedicine has been used by hospitals for years, the concept has evolved thanks to technology improvements in the past decade. A recent blog post on Forbes.com explains that now with faster internet connections, increased usage of smartphones, and electronic medical records, people can receive medical care digitally easier than ever before. The writer points out that first there was the move to retail health clinics such as CVS’s Minute Clinic for more efficient quality care and now with telemedicine, patients can access care from wherever they are. You can read the entire Forbes article on telemedicine here.
Health Outcomes-Based Incentives
Even though corporate wellness initiatives were introduced in the mid-1940s, the term “wellness” has been trending lately and one difference is that today’s wellness programs can include health outcomes-based initiatives. These initiatives financially reward employees for participating or in some cases, penalize those who don’t. Employers are finding that with some type of incentive, employees will use the wellness programs in higher numbers, which can make a bigger impact on reducing overall health care costs. An example would be a company offering their employees an incentive of $50 per month for participating in their wellness program and for some, extending it to spouses for an opportunity to earn $100 a month.
According to the Towers Watson/National Business Group employer group survey, 22 percent of the companies interviewed adopted outcome-based incentives and they anticipate the number will increase to 46 percent this year if companies follow through on their plans.