Telemedicine is the new popular phase in the employee benefits world. Telemedicine allows patients and doctors to communicate via phone or webcam. Doctors are able to examine their patients and prescribe medication. Countless employers are adding telemedicine policies to their benefits package offered to their employees. Telemedicine has many hidden advantages most employers would not think of, let’s start from the beginning.
According to Jonathan Linkous, head of the American Telemedicine Association, “Telemedicine has been around for about 40 years, but in the last five years it’s been exponentially growing in all sectors”. With more access to technology and high-speed internet, telemedicine has been more and more available to people across the country.
- Lowered Risk – More employees use telemedicine, there are less claims being processed through as office visits. If necessary, prescriptions can be sent directly to the pharmacy eliminating the cost of office visit copay for the carrier and the insured.
- Decreased Sick Time – By having a doctor available to employees at all hours of the day, employees will be treated sooner and will ultimately reduce sick days taken. When an employee starts to feel symptoms, they typically wait a couple of days to see if the symptoms worsen. When the symptoms do in fact worsen, employees then make a doctor’s appointment with their primary care physician. This could result in waiting a couple more days depending on the doctor’s availability.Instead, when symptoms first occur they can call a doctor through their Telemedicine policy. Employees are able to describe the symptoms and doctors will send the prescription right to the pharmacy. This will treat the infection/illness sooner resulting in the employee returning to work sooner.
- Reduced Premium Costs through HSA (Health Savings Account) Plans – Right now there are no rulings or regulations against allowing Telemedicine to employees who are on an HSA compatible plan. Carriers do not have to pay for anything until the deductible has been satisfied. Since this is not connected to the insurance policy, Telemedicine has not been ruled out by providing services prior to the deductible being met.
- Happier Employees – Most employees are nervous when offering an HSA plan because there are no copays embedded into the plan before deductibles are met, if any. Office visit copays are very important to employees. By offering Telemedicine and an HSA, employers are able to control the premiums and employees are able to visit a doctor without having to worry about paying out-of-pocket for that visit.
By offering Telemedicine, employers are able to control the rising premium cost through lowering claim usage and have the ability to offer HSA compatible health plans without removing those office visit copays completely.
With increasing technology, Telemedicine is becoming more and more popular, with many advantages for both employers and employees.