As a means to reduce rising healthcare costs, innovative solutions are rising to the surface. One such solution is known as virtual direct primary care (VDPC). This has been one of our largest initiatives over the past 12 months as the rules around virtual medicine have expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this model, physicians, pediatricians and internists charge a monthly membership fee that covers most of what the average patient needs, including visits and drugs at lower prices, instead of accepting insurance for routine visits. As a result, VDPC can provide substantial savings to patients. Consider the following:
- Cost of visit — free with monthly membership
- Copay cost — no copays
- Length of visit — typically 30–60 minutes (traditional doctor’s office visits are less than 20 minutes)
Because they don’t operate under the typical fee-for-service model, many VDPC providers are able to spend more time with their patients. Research shows that patients who have a good relationship with their doctor receive better care and are happier with the care they receive.
I think of this as a dedicated company doctor for employers that is available around the clock to provide the care they need, when they need it.
VDPC presents a way for employees to receive more personalized healthcare while containing their healthcare costs. Moreover, VDPC can be an attractive option for employees with high-deductible health plans and health savings accounts, as it would provide them with the option of receiving care without paying high out-of-pocket costs.
Employers should start to think about new and innovative ways to serve their employees as the work environment is changing and we continue to struggle with rising healthcare costs. In a lot of ways, the healthcare system is broken. We continue to see employers raising deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums and co-pays in an effort to reduce their plan spend. Through an overlay medical plan, which truly “holds hands” with the major medical plan, we can put together a population health strategy that incentivizes employees to engage in healthy activities and be compliant around chronic conditions.
The good news for employers is that this strategy requires little change to their base medical plans to start. To implement this strategy, they do not need to change their health carrier, broker or plans.
For the past 24 months, we have seen an incredibly strong labor market that has led to a scarcity of great talent. Employees are asking for more from their employers in order to remain in their current positions. We hear this from every client we work with, regardless of industry.
We view it as our job to bring solutions to the table that have a meaningful impact on employees, while not breaking the bank for employers.
I encourage business leaders to evaluate their current benefits package for gaps in coverages and/or financial planning tools that their employees could utilize. This is a great opportunity to benchmark their benefits, pricing and contributions against their competitors. We are helping clients with this data on a regular basis.
While the benefits being offered are important, so is the consumer experience. Employers should ask themselves, “What does the enrollment process look like? How are we leveraging technology and decision-making tools? What educational opportunities are we missing?” Employee benefits are one of the largest budget items for most employers, so it makes sense to maximize the ROI by proving a great shopping experience for employees.
Casey Strunk is the president of Strunk Insurance Group. Strunk Insurance Group is a family-owned and -operated employee benefits and human resources consulting firm started in Phoenix in 1982 that serves organizations across Arizona and the Southwest with up to 500 employees.