Amazon Plans to Bring Health Care to Headquarters

Amazon recently announced an ambitious plan to offer on-site health care to its employees. The tech giant will open a pilot clinic in its Seattle headquarters later this year and begin expanding the services to more employees in 2019.

Like other companies, Amazon wants to address the rising costs of emergency room visits, which are the most frequently used type of outpatient service. In January, Amazon announced a joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase to work towards cheaper, higher quality health care. The CEO of the venture – Dr. Atul Gawande – is specifically focused on primary care options.

To cut down on time and money spent on the ER, Amazon is encouraging employees with non-emergency ailments – such as skin rashes, muscle pains, infections, and sore throats – to visit a preventative care or urgent care center instead. Some companies have saved money by outsourcing on-site services to providers such as Crossover Health and One Medical, but Amazon is moving forward with its own doctors and clinics.

Health insurance has consistently been the most expensive benefit for companies to provide. In 2016, the average cost of healthcare was $6,435 per employee for individual coverage and $18,142 for family coverage.

War for Talent: Health Rules All

As companies rely on perks to appeal to an evolving workforce in the war for talent, they shouldn’t forget what’s most important to employees – affordable health options.

A 2016 survey by Fractl asked 2,000 U.S. workers to weigh certain benefits in lower-paying job vs. fewer benefits in higher paying jobs. 88% of respondents said they would give “some consideration” or “heavy consideration” to better health, dental, and vision insurance – making it the benefit most likely to sway respondents to choose a lower-paying job.

Amazon’s plan to build internal clinics may be unrealistic for some companies, but businesses should consider how they can save themselves – and employees – time and money by investing in primary care providers.

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