It’s no news to you that your company’s health care costs are rising. Premiums for 2016 are expected to rise by 5% to 8%, with some plans increasing by double digits.
Shopping for new plans, reducing coverage (without triggering any ACA penalties), and shifting more costs to employees are some of the ways to hold the line on company costs.
Another way is to use telehealth, also called telemedicine, which the Department of Health and Human Services defines as:
“the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.”
While the impetus for the development of telehealth has been the delivery of health care to under-served areas, such as rural locations, it can be used anywhere and produce cost savings. One survey last year projected the savings in the U.S. at $6 billion, with 37% of employers expected to offer it by the end of 2015 and another 34% in 2016 and 2017.
Will small businesses embrace this health care option?
Cost may be the reason why companies are turning to telehealth, but effective utilization of it to save money depends on other variables, such as your support and encouragement to staff and assisting employees in getting online or mobile so they can access the appropriate telehealth provider or information.
Here are some resources to check out:
- AllyHealth, which offers access to doctors by phone 24/7.
- HealthTap, which is a free mobile app that can be used to get answers to health care questions from 73,000 doctors.
Want to learn more about telehealth?
Check out Q-and-As at the American Telemedicine Association. Be sure to inquire about resources from your insurer and make sure that your offerings do not violate any ACA rules.