Health and Safety

Why Does Primary Care Matter to Labor Health Funds in 2017?

January 28, 2017 
By Phil Barbaro One Medical, Vice President of Public & Labor

The New Year has brought significant political change that will have a substantial impact on how healthcare is regulated, accessed, and financed.  It’s also anticipated that as the economy continues to improve, that there will be a significant investment in infrastructure that could result in hundreds of billions of dollars in public and private sector investment.

For labor leaders and health fund trustees, one might ask “why does primary care matter, and why should I be focused on its importance in 2017?”  Put simply, any effort by Labor & Management Health Fund Trustees to improve availability to accessible and independent primary care, will enable a Health Fund to reduce costs, improve member health, and improve financial competiveness in market.  There are several important factors to consider:

Consolidation within the healthcare market will continue.  Large healthcare systems will continue to acquire small independent primary care physician practices because these healthcare systems view primary care as a referral feeder to radiology, lab, and specialty services that generate a significant amount of revenue and profit.  Primary care independence matters.

  •  It is anticipated that healthcare trend will continue to rise; with the improving economy driving an increase in utilization and demand.
  •  Reliable and timely access to primary care services will continue to be a challenge within New York City, Long Island, and nationally.  This will continue to result in an over-utilization of higher-cost specialists, urgent care, and emergency room for routine care services.
  •  Although recent news on the Aetna-Humana, and Anthem-Cigna mergers casts doubt on whether these mergers will ultimately take place, these payer organizations will continue to look to grow through acquisition, if at a smaller scale. Health Fund plan sponsors will increasingly feel the pain from not having leverage in their conversations with health systems that are attempting to consolidate their control.  An independent primary care organization provides a Health Fund with important referral leverage.
  • The potential for value in Virtual Healthcare will continue to rise, but will do so where there is a fundamental integration in local care delivery with virtual care services.  The patient experience must be streamlined between in-office, and virtual care settings; providing a consistent and high quality patient experience.  When this happens, virtual care has endless possibilities.

When I think about the value that can be realized by Health Funds that choose to make primary care a key component of their strategic focus, it makes me incredibly proud to be affiliated with an organization like One Medical that has been an industry leader in providing accessible, high-quality, and independent Primary Care, and 27/7 Virtual Care services.  Please visit www.onemedical.com/enterprise/, or contact Phil Barbaro at pbarbaro@onemedical.comfor more information.

January 27, 2017

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