By Michelle Rosowsky
Employers may believe that covering their workers with a comprehensive benefit plan is like trying to keep warm under a blanket that’s just too small. Pull it up to your chin, and your toes stick out. Tuck it under your feet, and your shoulders get cold. You can keep tugging at the edges, but there’s a limit to how much it can stretch.
As a broker or consultant, you have a variety of solutions to help your client get the most coverage out of their benefit budget. These nine questions will help you determine whether an onsite health center is the right “stretching” strategy to propose.
1. Does the organization already have a health strategy in place? Indications might include an existing wellness program with good employee participation, incentives around physical activity or preventive screenings, and other signs that the organization understands the connection between healthy employees and business outcomes.
2. Does senior leadership demonstrate care and concern for employees? If they are asking you for a solution that doesn’t negatively impact their employees, chances are the answer is yes. Wise leaders also expect a level of accountability in return, and are willing to support and incentivize employees to take advantage of the resources provided.
3. What are the organization’s goals? If the company is growing - and if recruiting and retaining top talent is vital to that growth - onsite health is a good long-term strategy. There may be quick payoffs, but most agree that the true value is realized over a 3-5 year horizon.
4. Is there a culture of trust and employee engagement? Organizations in which employees feel valued and heard establish an environment where onsite health benefits will be received positively. Employers of choice also tend to have established internal communication channels for promoting services.
5. Where do employees work? A centralized workforce where a large percentage of employees are co-located is ideal for a health center. But near-site models — where a single health center serves multiple employee groups — works well for employers such as cities and school districts. More dispersed employee populations (such as those employed at retail stores or project sites) may need to consider virtual health care services.
6. What is the size and demographic of the eligible population? Typically, organizations with more than 1,000 employees can justify a full-time staffing model, although organizations with smaller employee groups might consider a part-time or shared-services model to scale their investment. Employee populations with a high prevalence of known risk factors such as obesity, hypertension or high stress are especially well-positioned to reap the benefits of onsite health, as are populations with aging workers.
7. What medical services are needed? Does the employer already provide occupational health, biometric screenings, patient navigation services or health incentive programs? These services could be enhanced with the addition of an onsite primary care provider, and consolidated by a single vendor for a more seamless and personalized experience for the employee. Onsite primary care in geographic areas where it is otherwise difficult to access is particularly valuable, and true population health management (rather than just acute care) is where the investment really pays off.
8. Is the organization self-insured and looking for ways to stabilize the upward trend of medical cost? Self-insured companies have the most to gain by a proactive population health management strategy. An onsite health center can have a significant impact on medical claims by reducing the usage of urgent care and specialist visits, as well as by discovering and treating undiagnosed conditions. Beyond averting future claims, redirecting acute and preventive care to an onsite provider means those costs become more predictable for the employer.
9. Can the organization make an investment in health? The first step is a clear understanding of current costs as a baseline, including plan performance as well as metrics on disability, workers compensation, absenteeism and employee retention. The cost of an onsite health center typically includes a one-time implementation fee and either an annual or per-member-per-month operation fee. In their proposal, onsite vendors should be able to show a positive return on investment with the assumptions that went into the calculation, including the predicted level of usage.
A high-quality onsite health provider can be much more than a vendor — they can be a true partner in helping an organization improve the health of their workforce and the performance of their business. A stretching strategy that works!
Michelle Rosowsky is vice president of business performance and strategy at Marathon Health. Michelle may be contacted at email@example.com.
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