Virtual care company Teladoc Health is partnering with Trustmark Health Benefits to offer a virtual-first insurance plan.

The health plan, called myVirtualCare Access, is built around Teladoc’s primary care offering, Primary360, which was made available for payers early last month. 

Members will pay $0 co-pays for virtual services and preferential cost sharing for in-person services that are referred by Primary360 providers. The virtual-first plan will be available to employers nationwide beginning next year.

“We believe that virtual-first benefit designs represent the convergence of employer and consumer demand and are the next step in unlocking the true power of whole-person virtual care.

“We are excited to power Aon and Trustmark’s innovative modern benefit design and look forward to the impact we will have on both member health and the overall cost of care,” Kelly Bliss, Teladoc Health’s president for U.S. Group Health, said in a statement.

“This offering will be compelling for employees that increasingly demand virtual care and for plan sponsors searching for a modern and affordable plan design.”

WHY IT MATTERS

The companies are positioning the virtual-first insurance offering as a cost-saving measure for employers and their workers as healthcare costs rise.

A survey published earlier this year by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Purchaser Business Group on Health found 90% of executives at large employers expected the cost of providing healthcare benefits will become unsustainable in the next five to 10 years. 

“We estimate that a virtual-first model could reduce employer medical plan costs by as much as 10%. The recent expansion of virtual care will continue beyond the global COVID-19 pandemic, spurring even greater adoption,” Stephanie DeLorm, senior vice president of health solutions at Aon, said in a statement. Aon offered consultation services and helped develop the plan.

“The timing is right for a virtual-first health plan to be offered as an option at annual open enrollment for employee benefits, as organizations continue to look for ways to build more resilient workforces.”

THE LARGER TREND

The COVID-19 pandemic spurred the use of virtual care and telehealth, and now some companies are utilizing it in designing health plan.

In late October, insurer Cigna announced it would offer a virtual-first plan to select employers powered by MDLIVE, a telehealth provider it acquired earlier this year

Insurance giant UnitedHealthcare also unveiled a virtual-first option last month called NavigateNOW that will be available this year for some employers in nine markets. 

Firefly Health launched a virtual-first health plan geared toward small and mid-size employers that’s currently available in Massachusetts, Maine and Ohio. It has plans to expand to new states over the next year.



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