Study Shows Cost Benefit of Onsite Health Clinics

Software provider SAS spent nearly $600 less in claims per primary care patient over a three-year study period.

A study by software provider SAS and Duke University, just published in The American Journal of Managed Care, found primary care users of the SAS Health Care Center (HCC) saved the company up to $600 per user in health plan claims costs over three years.

The Phase I study, “Worksite Medical Home: Health Services Use and Claim Costs,” examined 2006 through 2008 claims and demographic data of more than 17,000 employees and dependents covered by the SAS health plan. It examined the usage and claims costs for three categories of SAS employees and their dependents: major users (designated HCC as their primary care), casual users (designated primary care providers outside HCC, but used other HCC services at least once), and nonusers.

The study found dependents using the HCC that were major users incurred $598 less in claims costs than casual users and $330 less than nonusers who were also dependents. This included costs for preventive care.

Employees using the HCC that were casual users had $482 more in claims costs than HCC major users. Most of the difference ($263) was for pharmaceutical expenses.

Key takeaways from the study include:

  • Use of on-site medical centers is associated with decreased total use of outpatient care including preventive care services; and
  • Whether on-site clinics save money is dependent on the cost of on-site care delivery in the context of avoided claims costs.

“The positive impact on employee health and cost savings makes this a worthwhile investment,” says Gale Adcock, chief health officer at SAS. “Add to that the employee time and productivity benefit of having these services right on campus, and there’s no question that worksite health care is a powerful health and business model.”

Employers are confident their onsite or near-site health centers improve the health and productivity of their employees, Towers Watson recently found. Nearly four in 10 (38%) large U.S. employers with onsite health facilities plan to add new centers over the next two years, according the Towers Watson 2015 Employer-Sponsored Health Care Centers Survey.