The Benefit of Doctor Visits with a Click of a Mouse

by Barb Walker, GHB Employee Benefits Agent

Doctor visits are more expensive than you may think.

They take up a lot of time when you consider 1) making an appointment (then waiting for it), 2) taking time off work to go to the appointment, 3) finding a parking space, 4) waiting in the doctor’s office, 5) the appointment itself and, 5) driving back to work or home.  It all often comes at considerable cost, not just for the visit itself but on business productivity and work schedules.

It is why many employers are turning to telemedicine—when doctors link up with patients by phone, email or webcam for a remote consultation—as an easy, way to mitigate the impact of a doctor visit not only for an employee’s health but also to diminish the cost to their business.

An employee’s quick access to healthcare advice through a phone call or video conference is proving to be a lot less expensive than a doctor visit, and it certainly takes a lot less time, often just minutes rather than the typical half-day. It significantly diminishes both the time and cost to get the help employees need, thus benefiting the workplace.

The Wall Street Journal reported that “more than 15 million Americans received some kind of medical care remotely” in 2015, citing the American Telemedicine Association. The paper said the trade group expected that number to grow by 30 percent in 2016.

A recent Employee Benefit Adviser article “What is the cost of a team member’s actual doctor’s visit” does a good job of explaining how telemedicine benefits both employer and employees.

The effectiveness of telemedicine is the reason it is now part of many employee benefits health plans. Through technology, employers can now help control the costs of employees’ health maintenance by introducing telehealth to their healthcare plans.

Barb Walker is an employee benefits consultant with GHB Insurance. She specializes in helping employers provide cost-effective benefits programs that deliver maximum value. Contact Barb by phone (206) 930-0596 or email her at Barb@ghbinsurance.com.

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