Innovative Employers That Are Reducing Costs and Improving Employee Health - Fixing The Primary Care Crisis

John Torinus, Jr., board chair and former CEO of Serigraph, Inc., understands the value of taking care of his employees: "Helping employees improve their health is right for the company's bottom line and is doing right by our employees. Healthier employees are happier, demonstrate less absenteeism and are more productive. This is a win for everyone involved."

Health care is one of the top three costs for any company. Business CEOs must make healthcare a corporate strategic priority rather than just a HR cost avoidance tactic.

What is needed are approaches to improve health and maintain wellness of the employee and their families and to assure that they get outstanding comprehensive primary care. I explore some of the approaches that progressive organizations are implementing. An example:

Some employers are turning to firms such as QuadMed or WeCare, TLC to initiate care models that can address both requirements. QuadMed got its start when its founder and CEO of parent QuadGraphics decided that it would be good business to work on improving his employees' health. Their employee clinics include not only primary care practitioners (who have a limited number of employees/patients,) nurses and other providers but a pharmacy, laboratory, radiology suite and other key resources such as nutritionists; this allows for active wellness program and intensive care of patients with complex chronic illnesses. Over time, QuadMed began to sell this approach to other companies on a turnkey basis. QuadMed and WeCare have repeatedly demonstrated that this approach to comprehensive primary care lowers the total costs of care, reducing the company's costs while improving employee health and productivity.

Almost all of the companies featured in this chapter offer this comprehensive primary care at no cost to the employee although some add a modest co-pay of about $10-30 per visit. Most have switched to self-insurance plus a catastrophic policy with a high deductible (such as $2500) but the company places a sum (such as $1500) in an HSA for the individual to use as he or she pleases for medical care not covered by the primary care arrangement (including the deductible if necessary).

As employers (and insurers) recognize that high quality expanded primary care may cost more upfront but actually reduce their total costs along with increased employee productivity, I predict that they will increasingly gravitate to these types of plans.



Copyright (c) Stephen C. Schimpff, MD