As healthcare costs steadily rise, employers are searching for ways to keep their costs to a minimum. Ensuring employees receive timely preventive, acute, and chronic care services can help improve population health and boost company morale. Retail clinics—especially CVS/minuteclinic with more than 1,100 locations nationwide—present an ideal partner based on their widespread accessibility and expanding suite of services (Walgreens’ recent partnership with LabCorp for in-store diagnostic testing is one indication of retail clinics’ evolving role in comprehensive health).
In the past month, CVS/minuteclinic has formed two partnerships to improve employee health. The first, a collaboration called Cigna Health Works between Cigna’s employer-sponsored health plan members and CVS Health, enables employees to access discounted preventive and acute care services at MinuteClinics as well as biometric screenings. Employees also receive a 20 percent discount on over-the-counter health-related products like vitamins and pain relievers. The second partnership, a collaboration between CVS/minuteclinic and the Alere eScreen Occupational Health Network, directs employees needing occupational health services like pre-employment screenings to MinuteClinics.
State employee health programs could be the next willing partner, given that many states perpetually struggle to finance their annual budgets. Premium hikes for both active employees and retirees have become a common practice consistently met with backlash. Alabama’s Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan, or PEEHIP, is one program whose overall healthcare spending has risen to unsustainable rates, thereby prompting the need for across-the-board premium and deductible increases. Successful retail clinic partnerships that enable and encourage state employees to access discounted services could save costs overall, thus reducing employee burden and state deficit.
Programs like ParTNers for Health in Tennessee that require biometric screenings for certain plan members could specifically benefit from partnerships with retail clinics. Preventive screenings like these are often a win-win situation: employees can diagnose and detect diseases early, whereas employers can dodge unnecessary high-cost claims for illnesses otherwise left untreated.
Additional cost-saving opportunities for all state employee programs exist via retail clinics’ foray into non-prescription pain solutions. In June, The Little Clinic became the first of major retail clinic operators to offer patients free consultations and recommendations for chronic pain, minor orthopedic injuries and other issues in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Southern Indiana. Given the rising cost of pharmaceutical drugs as one of the largest drivers of overall cost increases, funnelling patients to non-drug solutions could save states millions of dollars.
Retail clinics will continue to enhance and evolve their services to reach an increasingly receptive group of providers, payers, and patients, and employers could reap the benefits of discounted services and convenient access.
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