Sunday, January 14, 2007

Outsourcing Health Care Isn't Always Cheaper

From today's NY Times ("Company Clinics Cut Health Costs"): "Frustrated by runaway health costs, the nation’s largest employers are moving rapidly to open more primary care medical centers in their offices and factories as a way to offer convenient service and free or low-cost health care.

Within the last two years, companies including Toyota, Sprint Nextel, Florida Power and Light, Credit Suisse and Pepsi Bottling Group have opened or expanded on-site clinics. And many other employers are adding or planning to add even more clinics.

For employees, on-site clinics can mean faster medical attention and lower out-of-pocket costs, since visits are usually free or carry only a small co-payment. For employers, on-site clinics can mean gains in worker productivity and lower health-insurance outlays."

Seems like win-win. Companies save money on health care costs, employees have access to convenient on-site health care and spend less time away from work for appointments, etc. The traditional practice of "outsourcing" medical care with employer-paid insurance insulates both the employer and the employee from the true costs of medical care, and gives neither much direct control over medical costs. Employer-paid on-site medical care makes everybody more cost conscious.


At 1/14/2007 3:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easy access and preventive medicine are the wave of the future. It has been tried before but with the costs of healthcare increasing these may work this time. Some caveats, 1)you get what you pay for, 2) your employer may have access to your health records and 3)continuity of care could be lost in this delivery system. I worry about the physician/patient relationship which is important in chronic care. Too, why do we always put so much into 'sick' care and so little into 'preventive' care. How many employers have on site gyms and health food stores for their employees?


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