Have the benefit challenges your employer groups face changed much in the last couple years? Certainly a few constants remain near the top of the list...
- plans continue to cost more
- out-of-pocket costs are increasing (check out this recent survey indicating a family of 4 will spend $4,534 a year)
- Rx formularies have shrunk
- doctor shortage is a concern (new patient wait times have increased 30% since 2014)
- and co-pays (if your groups even still have them) are becoming more expensive. We could eventually see them stripped out of the plans altogether.
As brokers, we already know the issues our groups deal with and have been crafting solutions to those pain points for the past few years. For example, more groups have telehealth than ever before, and this is a great trend (if employees are using it! If not, click here to learn more). Now, there are services to help with other visits through a service called Doctors Online.
I’m sharing 4 reasons this benefit is and will continue to be valuable...
1. It solves the other half of the puzzle
Telehealth can help with up to 70% of doctor visits, but by design, the visits are handled by general practitioners. What about the need for advice from a specialist? Doctors Online helps fill this void by providing access to specialists including physicians, optometrists, psychiatrists, dermatologists, dietitians, and more. Imagine having back-and-forth email access to these types of advisors for personalized advice – with no fee. For example, let’s say I get a prognosis I’m not sure about, I can send tests and records to my Doctors Online specialist to get a second opinion or pose questions I didn’t get to ask or think of asking in my doctor’s office.
2. It empowers your groups to be better consumers
Providing more affordable options to access healthcare is a concern among brokers. “Consumerism” is a definite buzzword, and we’re all trying to educate our groups on how they can help stretch their dollars further. Doctors Online is a solid consumerism strategy, giving employees the ability to get personal, quick, expert advice without paying a specialist office visit. Instead, a $0 per visit service offsets many in-person specialist visits while offering the employee fast answers from a reliable source. Plus, it often provides peace of mind as to whether or not they need to be seen in person. For example, let’s say I have a mole that’s really concerning. I can rush off to an expensive dermatologist visit or I can take a picture and send it to my Doctors Online specialist for next steps. Now that is a great addition to any benefit plan.
Read a few few real-life examples from our members:
Alternative Treatment: Tonia saved $6,024 this year from a second opinion that led to a MUCH better drug treatment. Click here to read her story.
Early Detection: An uploaded photo identified Lyme Disease, driving Dan to a doctor MANY days in advance of his plan and saving weeks of recovery time. Click here to read his story.
Second Opinion: Reid wanted to know if his mother’s lung cancer treatment plan by her Canadian doctor was in line with the latest research here in the U.S. After a couple emails, he got peace of mind as it was affirmed by a top U.S. Oncologist. Click here to read his story.
3. Your groups already want this benefit
How many times have you been on Facebook and seen a post of someone describing an issue which inevitably devolves into comments about tumors, cancer and/or needing a limb amputated. Seriously, we know employees, friends, and probably even each of us have spent hours browsing Google and WebMD trying to diagnose an issue. Not only do we want an immediate answer to our questions, but also to avoid the cost associated with getting an expert’s advice - not to mention the hassle of trying to find an in-network provider who can see us in a reasonable amount of time. And what about when you do go see a specialist and want a second opinion? Through email, members can share x-rays, blood tests, etc. with an expert and ask specific questions. Rather than going through the time, cost and hassle of a specialist visit all over again, Doctors Online access could bring the insight needed.
4. Timeliness matters, more and more
If you’ve read many of my articles in recent months, you know I constantly refer to the doctor shortage and how this trend will continue. A growing deficit in enough doctors to efficiently serve the populace will create sharp increase in demand for physicians’ time. Trying to schedule a specialist visit will likely require even more lead time with the actual visit itself being shorter and shorter. Providing a Doctors Online benefit allows the member to get the assistance they need when they need it, not 3-5 months later when they can finally get an appointment. Consider the growing stress associated with months of worry and waiting.
I’m not a prophet. I can’t see into the future and report back on how the new PPO and HSA plans will look, what new rules will be enforced, or what old rules will be revoked. All I know is the trend I mentioned earlier shows no sign of stopping. It’s time to close the loop with innovative solutions like Doctors Online.
Now it’s your turn! Do you recommend a contemporary solution for specialist care to your groups? What stories have you heard that demonstrate the need for this type of access? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.