Most of us have heard the horror stories by now about everyday people receiving serious diagnoses and not being able to afford care. But today, large-scale corporations like Walmart might be looking at changing the way their employees access their necessary medical treatment by straying from the conventional health care system and offering a new model of coverage.
Restructuring Health Care
For the past several years, Walmart has offered an innovative option to its workers when they experience a health problem. As a part of their "Centers of Excellence" program, Walmart provides employees diagnosed with certain cancers access to one of the Mayo Clinic facilities located in the country.
Walmart’s Center for Excellence Program centers on offering advanced treatment to those with breast, colon, lung or rectal cancer. Employees who've received a diagnosis for one of these illnesses get advanced access to treatment and care.
This treatment aims to provide employees with the superior and medically-advanced care that they need to ensure the proper treatment. What issue does this problem solve?
For those without adequate — or any — medical care, Walmart's program helps them receive the proper care that they need. Today, Walmart has not only taken on a reputation as one of the country’s largest and most successful businesses, but it is also widely known as a health care innovator, too.
How Direct Contracting Is Transforming Treatment
Powerhouse companies like Walmart, Amazon, Lowe's and Walt Disney are transforming health care treatment by engaging in direct contracting tactics. Essentially, they're removing the need for health insurers who arrange for health care coverage. Instead, these businesses are in direct contact with health providers and often seek their services to treat their employees at a flat rate.
Currently, many citizens in the U.S. pay for their health care services by paying monthly to an insurer with added costs amounting depending on their necessary procedures, doctor visits or prescriptions.
However, many companies like Walmart are working to change this model in the movement towards more value-based care. They see the value in investing in comprehensive treatment for their employees because it will lead to fewer health complications for their workers in the long run.
Removing the Fee-Based Model
One of the primary complaints of patients seeking treatment and care in the nation today is the fee-for-service based nature of the current health care industry. What does this mean?
Doctors and other health care professionals are only paid when they charge for services, such as testing, procedures, and consultations that require an in-office visit. This system, however, doesn't always work in the patients' favor as it drives medical care costs and can discourage individuals from seeking follow-up visits or assistance when necessary.
This means that physicians may not be motivated to provide patients with the optimal degree of care — especially when they're not compensated in return for their initiatives. But for employers of Walmart and other businesses participating in the new health care movement, value-based care is overtaking fee-for-service care.
Direct contracting is solving this glaring issue in the country's health care system by reducing the occurrence of unnecessary treatments and procedures, too. Since many doctors capitalize off performing procedures, patients may undergo surgery or partake in procedures that produce more harm than good.
Providing a Twofold Benefit
While it may seem like these new health care models only benefit workers, direct contracting is incredibly valuable to employers, too. That's why today, businesses scattered throughout the Pacific Northwest are incorporating these health care programs into their daily business model.
But how does carving a new health care system benefit these companies? To answer this question, you have to have a brief understanding of the parties responsible for the health care dollar. Although Medicare is number one, employers are a close second.
That's why some employers are making an effort to take control. The programs offer a cost-effective way for employees to seek treatment while making it easier for employers to help their workers connect with the appropriate care.
While this current health care system does experience its own fair share of limitations regarding the type of illnesses and health complications it focuses on treating, it's carving the way for more accessible and affordable treatment plan for workers scattered throughout the country.
Until we are able to get our government on board with some sort of plan that works better for us — ideally, single payer — it is refreshing to see big companies taking some responsibility for the well-being of their employees.