Employers Embrace On-site Clinics in 2021 Despite Challenges Posed by COVID-19

On-site services will grow and play a critical role in 2021.

COVID-19 has shifted employer focus to health and well-being, and more specifically, to on-site clinics. A 2021 Large Employers' Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey shows nearly three in four employers (72%) either have a clinic in place or will by 2023. Some employers are expanding services-- 34% offer primary care services at the worksite, and an additional 26% plan to have this service available by 2021.

On-site clinics have proven to be flexible enough to adapt to the current landscape by providing things like COVID-19 testing and virtual care. They enabled employers to deliver the necessary enhanced services to their workforce and meet the extra demands of the pandemic. For most employers, on-site services will continue to be a part of their approach to health care. 

Further, more employers are seeing health care as a key part of their business strategy

This year, more than ever before, employers see investments in health and well-being as an integral part of workforce strategy, increasing from 36% in 2019 to 45% in 2020.  For many organizations, the pandemic accelerated a growing trend, with the pandemic shining light on the connection between employee health and well-being and overall business performance. According to the survey, 38% of employers believe COVID-19 has had a significant or very significant impact on how they view their health care strategy in relation to their overall workforce strategy.

Why employers are turning to on-site clinics: unpredictable health care costs

Among large employers, the survey found that a common concern was the unpredictability of health care costs, as many employers recognized the impact of delays in care resulting from the COVID pandemic. With so many employees deferring care this year, costs that declined in 2020 will likely multiply in 2021. According to the survey:

  • The total cost of health benefits is expected to rise 5.3% in 2021, an increase that is slightly higher than the 5% increases employers projected in each of the last five years.
  • Including premiums and out-of-pocket costs for employees and dependents, the total cost of health care is estimated to be $14,769 per employee this year, an increase of $197 from last year. 
  • The total cost is projected to rise to an average of just over $15,500 in 2021. In line with recent years, employers will cover nearly 70% of costs while employees will bear about 30%, or nearly $4,700.

On-site clinics help employers reduce health care spend and improve employee health at the same time. Savings can be driven by:

  • Better care navigation and strategic referral patterns
  • More personalized, higher quality of care
  • Reduction in absenteeism 
  • Reduction in workers’ compensation and disability-related costs
  • Improvements in retention and reduced turnover
  • Prevention of chronic disease

Given the financial and operational struggles as a result of the pandemic, companies must consider how to become more efficient and cost-effective, to protect their employees, streamline processes and improve productivity. As we move past the pandemic, prioritizing health and well-being through on-site services will be a key strategy in preserving your company’s bottom line and your employees health.

Learn more about how wellness programs benefit both your company and employees by downloading our guide today. 

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