by jerry on June 13, 2021
Kaiser Health News reported on the growth of various efforts to extend primary care and make it more accessible to patients. There appear to be a growing number of healthcare provider groups that charge an access fee (one firm currently charges $199/year) and in return, promise better service, including more availability and more timely appointments. These provider groups sometimes target larger employers by offering onsite clinics.
The article cited an interesting study showing that one employer, SpaceX, benefited from lower overall healthcare costs, even though spending on primary care was higher than others. There is a general sentiment that US under-invests in primary care by paying specialists more, luring more people who are training to be doctors to become specialists. There does not seem to be strong indication that insurance companies are about to change their reimbursement policy significantly for doctors remaining on fee-for-service, and it is interesting that some employers are experimenting with this approach. Insurers are, however, looking at value-based compensation policies, which might have similar effects. Much more data will need to be collected to see if any of these approaches meaningfully slows the growth in healthcare costs.