Businesses open employee health clinics to curb costs

More local employers are opening on-site or nearby clinics for their employees and families, which businesses are hoping will help save money and avoid employees going to higher priced emergency settings.

These clinics reflect how business owners want to save as health care spending continues to rise, pushing up premiums. For a family plan in 2019, the average annual health insurance premium alone cost $20,576 for employer-sponsored plans, up sharply from 2009 when the average premium was $13,375.

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For 2019, that includes $14,564 on average that the employer paid toward the premium and $6,015 the employee paid.

Scott McGohan, CEO of McGohan Brabender, said these employee clinics can help with costs by making it easy for workers and families to get treated in a primary care setting and avoid an urgent care or emergency department. The clinics can also help employees have an effective wellness strategy that helps employees prevent illness and better manage chronic conditions.

The clinics help “medically homeless” employees who don’t have a relationship with a specific health care provider.

“So with an on-site or near-site clinic, you can build those relationships with your workforce and a primary care physician,” McGohan said.

These clinics can be too expensive for a small employer to justify, but can be a money saver for a large employer with a workforce concentrated in one area, McGohan said.

He said he’s also starting to see multiple businesses banding together to share a clinic.

Seven businesses in Miami County recently joined together to open a clinic in Piqua for their employees. This includes A.M. Leonard, Miami Valley Steel Service, Superior Aluminum Products , Jackson Tube Service, Production Paint Finishers, RK HydroVac, and Harmony Systems & Service.

MORE: ER visits fall after Dayton opened clinic for employees

Employer Direct Care is a private health clinic accessible to only the employees and families of the seven companies who bought into the closed network consortium. These employers share the operating costs of the clinic.

“Companies are attracted to this innovative care model as a way to control healthcare spending growth, boost workforce productivity, and improve the hiring and retention of employees,” the seven businesses said in a joint statement.

The clinic is close to all the employers’ worksites. Employees and families will have access to primary care, prescriptions, diagnostic testing and occupational health in a timely and cost-effective manner. The clinic will also offer wellness services to help employees with healthy lifestyle goals or address chronic conditions.

The city of Dayton launched an employee health clinic in 2016, and the Dayton Daily News previously reported the city of Dayton estimates it saved almost $1 million in emergency department costs in three years. The city's health care plan recorded 950 ER patients in 2018, down more than 28% from 2016. Urgent care patients decreased by 32% during that time.

In October, Dayton City Commissioners approved a contract worth more than $6 million with Healthstat Inc. to continue operating its off-site health and wellness center through the end of 2024. Commissioners also approved a three-year contract with the company, with a couple of one-year renewal options, that will add new services, at a total cost of nearly $2.4 million.

Employee clinics

33%: U.S. employers with 5,000 or more employees with general medical worksite clinics in 2017, up from 24% in 2012.

16%: U.S. employers with 500-4,999 employees with a general medical clinic in 2018.

Source: National Association of Worksite Health Centers

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