29 Statistics You Need To Know About Healthcare & Telemedicine


February 26, 2021

First Stop Health

Healthcare costs are increasing, burdening both employers and employees. Accessing care has also become more difficult due to COVID-19 and a variety of other reasons. Our collection of statistics demonstrate the scale of these healthcare problems and how telemedicine can address the issues.

Skyrocketing U.S. Healthcare Costs

1. Healthcare spending continues to grow: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) forecasts national health spending will grow at an average rate of 5.5% per year through 2027.

2. Healthcare spending as a percent of GDP: CMS estimates that, as a share of GDP, healthcare costs, which represented 17.9% of GDP in 2017, will constitute 19.4% by 2027.

Research clearly supports the conclusion that telemedicine and other virtual care offerings are effective alternatives to in-person visits with the potential to save money while increasing access to quality care.


Telehealth: Size, Penetration, Quality and Cost Savings     

3. Employers offering telemedicine: 95% of employers are confident their organizations will continue to sponsor health care benefits in the next five years, says Willis Towers Watson’s Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey.

4. Low employee telemedicine use: From Mercer’s study — while the vast majority of midsize to large employers offer a telemedicine benefit, about 9% of eligible employees use it.

5. Demand among millennials: 40% of millennials said that a telemedicine option was “extremely or very important.” Numbering 83 million, millennials now comprise the largest segment of today’s workforce.

6. Millennials and convenience: Millennials place high value on both ensuring convenience and limiting treatment costs. Just 67% of millennials have a primary care physician, compared with 85% of baby boomers.

7. Care for older adults: Americans are living longer than ever before, and the population of older Americans is growing at an unprecedented rate. Consequently, costs associated with their healthcare needs are expected to strain the healthcare system. The good news? The vast majority of older adults are open to telemedicine, despite assumptions that they would be less willing to use technology.

8. Telemedicine patient satisfaction: 79% of patients said that scheduling a telemedicine follow-up visit was more convenient than arranging an in-person follow-up, according to Massachusetts General Hospital.

9. Quality of care: According to the The American Journal of Accountable Care, “The use of telemedicine has been shown to allow for better long-term care management and patient satisfaction.”

10. Potential annual employer savings: Net cost savings is estimated at $19-$121 per telemedicine visit, depending on where the employee would have otherwise sought care.


Healthcare Costs Rise for Employers and Employees

11. Combined employer and employee costs: Large companies say their total cost of health care, including premiums and out-of-pocket costs for employees and dependents, will increase to $15,500 per employee in 2021, up from $14,642 per employee in 2019, according to the National Business Group on Health.

12. Employers’ share of costs: Over the last decade, average premium contributions by employers have increased 51% from $10,008 to $15,159.

13. Increased burden for employees: After two years without increases, medical costs are expected to rise in 2020.


Emergency Room Costs and Avoidable Visits

14. ER costs: The average cost of treating nonemergency conditions (such as bronchitis, dizziness, sore throat and the flu) in the ER is $2,032, which is $1,800 more than in primary care settings.

15. Avoidable ER visits: The same study found that two-thirds of ER visits are avoidable. Those unneeded visits cost the system $32 billion per year.

16. Hospitals drive up costs: Also from UnitedHealth Group - hospital facility fees increase the cost of care by an average of $1,069 per visit. This means the cost per employee will increase, too.


Telemedicine and COVID-19

17. Fear and concern: 71% of this survey’s respondents stated they were fearful to visit a doctor’s office due to COVID-19.

18. Resulting in poorer health: 11% of adults in this poll say their or their family member’s condition got worse as a result of postponing or skipping medical care due to coronavirus.

18. Driving utilization: A report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 154% increase in telehealth visits during the last week of March 2020, compared to the same dates in 2019.

19. Unprecedented growth: The CDC also found that about 1.6 million telehealth encounters occurred from January through March 2020.

20. Convenience during COVID-19: This article points out telemedicine saves patients’ time. 61% said the time spent in the virtual waiting room was also shorter than an in-person visit.


Problems in Accessing Healthcare

21. Adults without primary care physicians: The amount of adults without primary care physicians have been decreasing over the years according to a recent study.

22. Skipped prescriptions: 29% of adults also report not taking their medicines as prescribed at some point in the past year because of cost.

23. Cost-impeded access to care: Half of American adults say they avoided going to the doctor due to costs. For 13% of that group, their condition got worse as a result.

24. Wait time: More than half (53%) of patients surveyed said they left a scheduled doctor’s appointment because the wait was too long.

25. Limited facetime with doctors: Burdened with large caseloads and paperwork, doctors spend an average of just 20 minutes with each patient.

26. Long waits for first-time appointments: According to a Merritt Hawkins survey examining 15 major metropolitan areas, the average wait for a new patient to get an appointment with a family medicine doctor is 24.2 days.

27. Shortage of primary care physicians: The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians by 2032. They also predict the country will be short 21,100 and 52,200 primary care physicians by that time.

28. Population density and access to care: The shortage of doctors and longer drives to medical facilities disproportionately affect rural Americans’ access to care. Suburban Americans live an average of 12 minutes from their nearest hospital, while urban Americans live just 10 minutes away. However, rural Americans live an average of 17 minutes from their nearest hospital, with 25% of that group living more than half an hour away.

29. Lack of mental healthcare outside of cities: Rural dwellers also face greater barriers to accessing good behavioral healthcare. 65% of nonmetropolitan counties do not have a psychiatrist, and nearly half do not have a psychologist.


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Originally published Feb 26, 2021 8:24:55 PM, updated November 15, 2022.