Using Your Carrier’s Telemedicine Service Could Cost More Than $500K

August 4, 2016

First Stop Health

The old adage “You get what you pay for” is a quote I often find myself muttering when I choose the cheaper option. In the end, those irresistible deals don’t always turn out to be a sound investment with an optimal ROI.

This is especially true when it comes to telemedicine, where we are hearing from employers and their consultants, “There is a telemedicine benefit included in our major medical plan at no extra cost.” What is often missed, however, is that a “free” telemedicine benefit embedded with a carrier can actually cost a 2,000-employee company upwards of $500,000 in healthcare costs that could have been avoided if a high utilization telemedicine benefit were implemented. 

While including a telemedicine benefit with a major medical plan “checks the box” on providing employees access to a doctor virtually, the value of telemedicine is derived when in-person physician visits are avoided. Utilization rates for embedded telemedicine solutions average less than 1%, which means a 2,000-employee will generate less than 20 calls per year. That utilization rate will not provide any value to a company in avoided healthcare claims.

When implemented correctly, however, telemedicine is the only benefit that has a direct impact on healthcare claims.

As a benefits consultant, you can provide tremendous value to your clients by helping them understand why a high utilization telemedicine solution is the most beneficial option, and worth their time to implement, in their strategic benefits plan. Key here is removing barriers and offering accountability.

The Best-in-Class Caring Approach

First Stop Health takes an entirely different approach than a major medical carrier in providing telemedicine. With best-in-class client service, we understand that in order to change behavior we have to remove barriers and educate employees.

The biggest barrier is ease of access. When asking someone to try something new, if you don’t make it simple and easy to use, no one will ever try it. With First Stop Health, all you need is a phone number to talk to a U.S.-based physician in minutes.

Another major barrier is cost. We believe that employees deserve a no-cost, no-hassle way to access healthcare. If done effectively, both employees and their employers will reap the savings from diverted visits.

Next, we realize that it isn’t enough to put a phone number on the back of an ID Card, hand out information at open enrollment and hope employees remember to call when spring allergies hit. Changing behavior requires a consistent communication strategy that is customized to the demographics and unique characteristics of each client's workforce. We partner with your clients to create a customized, 12-month communication strategy that drives engagement, high utilization, and maximizes ROI. 


With a carrier-embedded telemedicine solution, utilization data is buried in reports you will never see. You will not understand the value that you are missing because you will never hear about how the telemedicine portion of your health plan is performing.

First Stop Health delivers comprehensive utilization reports on a quarterly basis to make sure you are aware of the value being generated. But most of the time, employees will let you know how great the service is because so many of them will have tried it.

At 56% utilization across First Stop Health’s entire client base, we drive utilization rates six times higher than the industry average and four times higher than our next closest competitor.

Don't just check the box on telemedicine; partner with a company that cares about quality service for increased engagement and high utilization, driving significant savings for our clients and their employees. We are so confident this approach will drive value we contractually guarantee our telemedicine solution will save more money in diverted visits than the benefit costs, or we will refund the difference.

Originally published Aug 4, 2016 1:00:00 PM.