Large companies like Apple embrace employer clinic model

As healthcare costs increase and discussion over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in flux, many large employers are considering how best to provide healthcare coverage for their employees. Their concern is for the health of their staff as well as for the health of their financials. Larger companies are beginning to look at unique options to embrace the employer clinic model.

Companies of all sizes have been providing on-site healthcare for their employees for decades. Recently, the leaders of Amazon, JP Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway announced they are planning to “form an independent venture that’ll be focused on healthcare for their US employees.” Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezo acknowledged that they were up for a challenge, but then added that “reducing healthcare’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort.”

Likewise, Apple has announced an employer clinic model in the form of a group of clinics providing healthcare for its employees and their families. The venture, called AC Wellness, is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2018. Apple’s “new primary care group — a group of clinical staff that is run independently from Apple but is dedicated to Apple employees — will initially only serve Apple’s employees in Santa Clara County, where its headquarters are located.”

These large companies recognize that it is less expensive to provide preventative primary care services for their employees than to provide coverage for treating illnesses and injuries. In addition to the cost of treating employees, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “health problems result in 69 million workers reporting missed days each year, reducing economic output by $260 billion per year.”

Apple is exploring other options for helping employees stay healthy, in addition to the on-site employer clinic. One of those options is determining whether their own Apple watch “can detect irregularities with the heart’s rhythm, an effort that would benefit from a huge population of healthy and sick patients.”