How much should a telemedicine benefit cost employers?

August 11, 2015

Will Rumsey

Providing unlimited access to 24/7 healthcare and connecting employees to doctors in minutes sounds convenient, but it also sounds really expensive.

Telemedicine can turn out to be another benefit that an employer buys and sees no value added because employees are not using it--but it doesn’t have to be.

Business models and pricing structures vary across telemedicine providers. Per employee per month (PEPM) prices for a telemedicine benefit typically range from $2 to $15. On top of the PEPM, many providers charge $20 to $50 per consultation fees to the employee. At first glance, a service with a low monthly fee and a consultation fee might seem like the least expensive and lowest risk option. Upon deeper analysis, exactly the opposite is true. Requiring a fee at the time of service creates a barrier to employees actually using the service. Because telemedicine can save employers money (especially those that are self-funded) from avoided visits to doctors’ offices, urgent care facilities and ERs, employers need a pricing model that encourages, not discourages, utilization among employees. Out-of-pocket fees kill utilization.

Some telemedicine providers use a low PEPM “sticker price” to attract business; in reality, there are onboarding fees, consultation fees, excess utilization fees and communication campaign fees. If you want employees to use the service (and thus generate savings back to your organization), you need a provider with a strict PEPM model with no additional, hidden fees.

First Stop Health’s telemedicine model uses such a model--a strict PEPM that covers all costs and does not charge for utilization. First Stop Health is so confident in its ability to generate savings for the employer through avoided in-person healthcare visits that it guarantees that the cost of telemedicine will be less than the generated savings. If the cost is higher, First Stop Health will credit the difference. With First Stop Health adding telemedicine as an employee benefit cannot cost you a dime!

More than 70% of ER and urgent care visits can be avoided every time an employee or family member makes a telemedicine “visit” by talking to a doctor over the phone. And every urgent care facility or ER visit avoided creates huge savings. But to realize these savings, utilization is critical. First Stop Health boasts utilization rates 800% higher than the industry average.

What makes it all work is First Stop Health’s customized engagement campaigns. Similar providers are happy to collect the fees from the company, but they’re not really invested in getting employees to actually use the service. Compare that to First Stop Health, which goes on the offensive, launching a full-fledged, year-long engagement campaign throughout the company to generate awareness. Member ID cards, custom flyers, emails, webinars and postcard reminders are just some of the ways in which First Stop Health ensures all employees are aware of the new benefit.

Due to First Stop Health’s unique pricing model and savings guarantee our goals and the goals of the customer are perfectly aligned. The more employees use the telemedicine service, the more money employers and employees save.

Originally published Aug 11, 2015 7:50:00 PM.