Perspectives

How primary care affects healthcare costs and outcomes

What makes the biggest difference in an employee’s health? Primary care, according to clinicians at Mercer's health and benefits practice, including guided navigation across the confusing healthcare continuum.

More than 181 million Americans—well over half the population—receive healthcare coverage through an employer. Facing ever-increasing healthcare costs, employers are working to manage healthcare costs and improve employee health through onsite clinics, care coordination and other innovative strategies.

  • Very large employers are increasingly offering onsite and nearsite clinics. 31% of organizations with 5,000 or more employees offered general medical clinics in 2018 (up from 24% in 2012), and a further 10% of employers this size are considering adding a clinic by 2020.

  • Though more than half of employers don't know or haven't measured the return on investment, for others RoI from onsite clinics ranges from 1:1 to 4:1. A robust analysis for one employer showed a healthcare RoI of 3.1:1 and productivity savings of 3.9:1.

  • Onsite clinics aren’t the only strategy used by employers to enhance the use and effectiveness of primary care. Others include care coordination for chronic conditions, monetary incentives to encourage participation in health coaching, and collaborative models combining primary care and behavioral health services.

The case studies in this written testimony demonstrate how employers are succeeding at lowering costs and improving the quality of service through innovation. If recognized, scaled and promoted, these innovations can serve as a roadmap to fundamentally improve the healthcare system as a whole.

The testimony is also available to view as a video, starting at the 50-minute mark.

How primary care affects healthcare costs and outcomes


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