There are so many working parts to the problem of the rising cost of health care that it seems almost impossible to solve. At this point, our politicians are locked in a health care battle and some of the solutions they’ve proposed seem untenable and frankly scary to me.

I’m not the only one thinking about the cost of health care. We recently surveyed 1,100 people we identified as the person who made the decisions about health care in their household. Across the board our respondents voiced their concerns telling us that:

Health care decision makers across the U.S. believe health care is becoming less affordable, and less accessible. More importantly, they feel health care is the least transparent financial decision they’ll ever make.

Corporate problem solvers

It’s been with great interest that I’ve been reading about corporations willing to take the lead in finding solutions. Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire CEOs recently announced their plan to take on the challenges of providing access to affordable, quality health care to their employees—with the intention of delivering advances in health care for everyone else as well. Some speculate that in-house care may be the first direction these big corporations go. 

Apple is jumping in with a solution too. The company just announced it will launch a network of medical clinics for its employees and their families. 

Our newest client, CareATC is another company leading the way working with companies to provide onsite and near-site primary care clinics for employees and families. The company is driven by a vision to reduce this country’s health care costs by 50 percent. Its model includes providing a shorter path to care via near-site clinics, along with an employee assessment and tracking that promotes health and helps prevent disease.

An old health care cost solution becomes new again

I poked around the web to find out more about the history of onsite health care. Come to find out having health care readily available to employees in the workplace is an idea that was commonplace as early as the late 1800s. There were many hazards in working in America’s booming railroad and mining industries, so companies opened onsite clinics to better manage workplace injuries.

The practice of having a “company doctor” wasn’t popular with the workforce, though, because the care was mandated by the company and the cost was deducted directly from an employee’s pay.

The new and improved onsite/near-site health clinic

Today’s onsite, or near-site, health clinics offer employees the ability to either Skype with a physician in a room onsite or visit an in-house or near-site facility that can include acute care, acupuncture and physical therapy. Employees usually pay a minimal co-pay for the visit or nothing at all.

Doing more than keeping people healthy

Many of these clinics aren’t just treating employees when they become sick. They’re also helping them control chronic conditions and stay healthy through full health and wellness programs that can include exercise and nutrition programs, smoking cessation programs and more.

How onsite clinics save money

Unlike the company clinic of the past, these new onsite/near-site clinics aren’t set up to be company money-makers, although the investment is paying for itself.

A study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that a well-designed, convenient health program can have a return on investment of $2–$3 per dollar spent over a two- to nine-year timeframe.  

Who’s going to solve the problem of the rising cost of health care?

Of course, not everyone works for a corporation large enough to make the initial investment in an onsite or near-site clinic. But, creative thinking that includes solutions like onsite health and wellness is a start.

Thank you Amazon, JPMorgan, Berkshire, Apple and more for putting the company on the line, for taking on the problem of health care access and cost. Thanks for frightening a few insurance companies and politicians. I’m looking forward to seeing what transpires beyond the great idea of onsite/near-site clinics.