3 Ways Virtual Care Combats Inflation and Rising Healthcare Costs

September 27, 2022

First Stop Health

Pandemic concerns, worsening inflation and increasing late-stage cancer diagnoses are causing employers to brace for higher healthcare costs in years to come. In fact, 71% of employers are preparing for moderate to significant increases in healthcare costs in the next few years.1  

With more than 50% of employers expecting healthcare costs to be over budget this year, tried-and-true solutions like Telemedicine (virtual urgent care), Virtual Primary Care and Virtual Mental Health can make a difference. Here are 3 ways virtual care can protect employers and employees from higher healthcare costs: 

No Claims  

Virtual care that runs independently from the group medical plan decreases healthcare costs. For non-emergent, episodic health events, telemedicine is available 24/7, nationwide. Convenient virtual access keeps employees out of doctor’s offices, urgent care centers and emergency rooms, reducing the impact of medical claims. 

For employees living with a chronic condition – which more than 50% of Americans are diagnosed with a chronic disease – medical claims increase, accounting for 86% of employer healthcare spending.2,3 Plus, 30% of ER visits by those with a chronic condition are potentially avoidable.4 With better care management and early prevention through virtual primary care, employees with a chronic condition can improve their health and reduce claims from unnecessary in-person visits. 

Diverted Costs 

Avoidable ER visits cost at least $47 billion (about $140 per person in the US) a year, according to a recent report.5 By helping employees avoid unnecessary doctor’s office, urgent care and ER visits and steering them to virtual care, medical claims drastically decrease and more costs are diverted. 

Time is money too and speedy access to virtual care impacts the lives of employees and their productivity. With virtual care solutions, employees can skip inconvenient in-person visits and avoid waiting rooms, taking days off work, travel times or childcare arrangements.  

Little-to-No Cost 

40% of Americans do not have $400 for emergency expenses to support themselves with an unexpected healthcare event.6 As healthcare costs rise, a substantial portion of the population can’t afford the care they need. The average cost of in-person urgent care center visits ranges from $100 to $150 and costs can vary depending on insurance coverage, annual deductibles and copays.7 ER costs are much higher and can cost more than $1,300, on average.  

With a little-to-no cost virtual care service, employees are encouraged to prioritize their health, ultimately decreasing downstream healthcare costs for themselves and their employer. Virtual care services, such as telemedicine, virtual primary care and virtual mental health, that are free or have a low-cost fee for employees and their family members to use drives utilization. The more virtual care is used, the more diverted costs are incurred, and medical claims avoided.  

Access to mental health support is also expensive. The average costs for psychiatry or therapy visits range from $100 to more than $200. To receive the best results, a patient must continually visit a counselor over many weeks, months or years. Unsurprisingly, cost is a major deterrent for seeking care. With virtual mental health, however, patients can access quality, cost-free or low-cost care for themselves or family members.    

First Stop Health (FSH) Virtual Care Solutions 

With FSH Telemedicine, Virtual Primary Care and Virtual Mental Health, employers experience fewer medical claims and more diverted costs as employees are encouraged to use these little-to-no cost services. FSH virtual care runs outside of the insurance plan and does not incur medical claims for visits. By avoiding unnecessary in-person visits, significant savings occur with diverted costs. And with easy-to-access Virtual Primary Care, early prevention tactics and better care management for those with chronic diseases can also reduce healthcare costs.  

  1. https://hrexecutive.com/employers-prepare-for-significant-jump-in-healthcare-costs/?oly_enc_id=0906G2495478E2U 
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2020/20_0130.htm 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5798200/ 
  4. https://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20190207/TRANSFORMATION03/190209949/unnecessary-ed-visits-from-chronically-ill-patients-cost-8-3-billion#:~:text=About%2030%25%20of%20emergency%20department,according%20to%20a%20new%20analysis. 
  5. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/unnecessary-er-visits-cost-47b-a-year-report-finds.html 
  6. https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2021-report-economic-well-being-us-households-202205.pdf 
  7. https://www.debt.org/medical/emergency-room-urgent-care-costs/ 

Originally published Sep 27, 2022 4:07:23 PM.