Use of on-site health clinics points to reduced overall health costs

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It’s no surprise the U.S. spends some of the highest amounts of health care costs than most other industrialized nations, and employers are fronting a quarter of those costs.

Looking at ways to cure those costs SAS and Duke University recently published data from a Phase I study on the connection between on-site health care clinic usage and claims costs, with some surprising savings results for on-site clinic users.

The study, recently published in The American Journal of Managed Care, focused on three categories of SAS employees and their dependents: major users (who designate the on-site clinic as their primary care), casual users (designated primary care providers outside the clinic, but used other clinic services at least once), and nonusers of the on-site clinic.

Also see: 5 easy steps to a wellness program employees love

According to the results, primary care users of the clinic saved SAS close to $600 each in health plan claims costs over three years, according to SAS.

“Our goal was to find out if our primary care patients used fewer SAS health plan dollars than employees and dependents that use other providers,” said Gale Adcock, chief health officer at SAS. “The answer was a resounding ‘yes.’”

Interestingly, employees and their dependents who were “casual users” of the clinic had the highest claims costs and use of outside healthcare services, although the study authors said further analysis is needed to understand the extent of the clinic’s use.

The objective of this study was to explore the relationship among the extent of use of an on-site, employer-provided primary care medical home at a large North Carolina employer and:

  • Health services utilization both in the on-site clinic and in the community, and
  • Health plan claims costs monetized using standardized prices.

“We’re setting the standard for investing in employee health and well-being,” Adcock added. “The positive impact on employee health and cost savings makes this a worthwhile investment. Add to that the employee time and productivity benefit of having these services right on campus, and there’s no question that worksite health care is a powerful health and business model.”
Also see: Opposites attract: Worksite clinic and private exchange integration

A Phase II study was recently completed examining whether the on-site clinic’s primary care patients have fewer avoidable ER visits and hospitalizations. Results have been finalized and are expected to be published in the near future.

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