For many businesses, offering healthcare benefits to employees is challenging at best, impossible at worst. Over the last 10 years, the cost of healthcare skyrocketed increasing twice as fast as worker wages. Historically, this left countless employers faced with the reality that providing healthcare benefits to employees was not always a viable option.
Then, along came 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed how industries do business, healthcare being no exception. Suddenly, a more efficient and affordable but far less common option — virtual healthcare — went from being a rarity to a necessity. Overnight, a seismic shift occurred in the marketplace. Healthcare providers already offering virtual care came up ahead of the game.
Through embedding virtual care coordination and virtual medical consultation into their approach to care, employer-sponsored health plans can significantly reduce costs by ensuring employees and their families get access to the care they need in in the right place, at the right time and at the right price. By significantly reducing cost of care, businesses that were previously unable to afford employee health plans now have more options available.
Employer-sponsored health plans that incorporate virtual care gain a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent, which directly correlates to financial success. Emerging from the pandemic, businesses are struggling to rebuild workforces. Everywhere you look there are labor shortages, particularly in industries such as transportation, construction, retail, hospitality and restaurants. In the near term, this shortage of labor will likely lead to higher wages. In the longer-term, to remain competitive, employers will need to offer a variety of employee incentives, with healthcare being at the top of that list. When companies are able to offer affordable healthcare solutions, it’s a win-win. All benefits employees receive from employers contribute to the “stickiness” of that employee. Workers are more likely to stay loyal to the company, and the organization, in turn, retains valuable talent.
Furthermore, by encouraging employees to utilize virtual primary medical care, including mental and behavioral health services, which would be considered routine health maintenance, higher-cost and more catastrophic health situations can be prevented, resulting in more healthy people and less costly overall healthcare.
The marketplace is rapidly adapting to incorporate virtual primary medical care. Currently, major players are jumping on board. Amazon recently announced the launch of Amazon Care, which will offer fast, comprehensive, 24/7 primary and urgent care for employees and their families. JPMorgan Chase recently announced the launch of Morgan Health, which is focused on improving the quality, efficiency and equity of employer-sponsored healthcare.
With large companies taking the lead and setting the example, the marketplace will adapt similar solutions for smaller businesses contributing to more affordable healthcare for all.
The future of healthcare will move toward virtual care and away from waste and unnecessary spend inherent in the current system. In its place will be a much more consumer-driven approach to healthcare, attributable primarily to the technology that enables virtual-first, on demand care. It’s all in the fundamentals: by focusing on people first, outcomes improve, quality of life increases and costs decline.