How Telemedicine Can Help Schools in the Fight to Save Money on Healthcare

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telemedicine for schoolsWith the arrival of summer comes the end of the school year.  Now is the time to discuss telemedicine.  Most schools are looking at their healthcare plan offerings for next year right now.  They will be starting to make these decisions in May, so talk to them now about how telemedicine can help schools save money and improve productivity, while providing a valuable benefit to their teachers and staff.

One of the big drivers of benefits decisions in school districts is funding.  Unfortunately, schools are facing a constant struggle to find funding.  State and federal funds are less and less each year.  With no reduction in the number of students enrolled, the schools are forced to make cuts to many programs in order to provide the necessary resources and all on a dwindling budget.

These funding gaps mean that schools are constantly searching for opportunities to save money on healthcare while also trying to improve their benefits.  Unfortunately for them, healthcare costs are rising and the enactment of the ACA has made it more challenging for them to provide healthcare benefits to their teachers at an affordable cost.  This is why many schools are being forced to cut healthcare costs.

With these factors in mind, this is the time of year that school administrators are reviewing their current health plans and voluntary benefits offerings for next year.  Decisions will be made over the next few months about plan changes, add-ons, and improvements. This is the perfect time to talk about adding AllyHealth telemedicine to benefits offerings, which can save money AND improve the total benefits offering.

In the current healthcare environment, and through advances in technology, the role of telemedicine has been expanding.  With the use of smartphones, tablets and computers, healthcare professionals have the capability to treat almost anyone, anywhere at any time.  These advances have not only expanded healthcare access but can also helped to reduce healthcare costs.

Telemedicine has to potential to save the healthcare system significant amounts of time and money.  When patients use telemedicine to consult with a healthcare professional about potential issues, the result is a decrease in office and urgent care visits.  Patients save on travel time and expanse, and productivity increases due to the reduction in the amount of time taken off from work to receive care.

The challenge of smaller budgets and the same number of kids to educate each year, schools are looking at the healthcare plans being offered to teachers.  Moving from fully-funded to self-funded, or high deductible health plans (HDHP,) are one way they are saving money.

Although self-funded plans are less expensive for the employer they do not provide immediate cost savings.  Most employers can expect to save 4 to 10 percent over a five year period.  This makes self-funded plans a long term commitment in order to make a financial impact for the employer.  The increased out of pocket costs also deter employees from seeking treatment at first to save money.  This can result in employees getting sicker and needing emergency treatment, which costs the employer more in claims expense.  Employees will also be out of work longer to recover, which impacts productivity.  This can be just as costly for schools as rising healthcare costs and cuts to their budgets.

Providing 24/7/365 access to healthcare professionals reduces the number of costly emergency room and urgent care visits after hours and on weekends.  Members can just call in, or log in from their smartphone, tablet or computer, and request a consult from a US board certified physician in the MDLIVE network.  A typical urgent care visit costs an average of $150.00 to $200.00.  The typical emergency room visit costs an average of $1,200.00 to $1,800.00.  A member using telemedicine instead of going to the urgent or emergency care is an immediate savings for the employer since there is no claim associated with the telemedicine consultation. The member also avoids the out of pocket expense from co-pays and deductibles for these visits.

The end of the school year is in sight and now is when everyone is looking at their healthcare plan options to offer next year.  Decision will be made by May.  Make sure you are there to talk to school administrators about how telemedicine can help schools save money and provide a valuable benefit to their staff in September.

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