Mercer’s National survey of Employer-sponsored Health plans noted a significant savings when members have telephone visit access to physicians.
According to the Mercer survey, Telemedicine offerings by large employers surged to 59% this year as compared to the 30% in 2015. Telemedicine plans are also becoming very popular with small to medium size businesses.
The key to the success of the program is utilization of the benefit. From our experience, if the benefit requires a co-pay for the consultation, the utilization will be very low, and the employees will not take advantage of the tremendous benefits of this program. That is the reason our plan requires NO CO-PAY and covers the entire family.
In our agency, we have a group that has a savings YTD of over $200,000 in reduction of medical visits at doctor offices and the ER. It is a proven fact that a viable Telemedicine program can reduce medical claim utilization by as much as 70% if the employee has a direct 800 number to talk to the doctor.
The Wall Street Journal (2/22, Tergesen, Subscription Publication) reports that beginning in 2019, Medicare beneficiaries with high incomes must pay a larger share of their medical costs. This article says this is another attempt to transfer more Medicare costs to the wealthiest seniors. The piece adds that as of next year, beneficiaries who have incomes of $500,000 or more and couples with the income of &750,000 or more will be placed into a new category and asked to pay 85% of what their parts B and D benefits cost. At present, they are paying 80% of those costs.
As prescription drug costs continue to increase, it is important for employers to understand the trends behind prescription drug costs and what they can do to better manage their health care expenses.
In 2013, the United States spent $329.2 billion on prescription drugs—eight times more than the $40.3 billion spent in 19901. Although prescription drug spending has historically been a small proportion of national health care spending compared to hospital and physician services, in recent years, it has grown rapidly.
To read this entire issue of “Benefits Insights” click here.