More Companies Adding In-House Medical Clinics

John Martin, an accounts-payable specialist at Hanes, told the Wall Street Journal he started visiting the clinic in January, having let his Type 2 diabetes go untreated for seven years. Clinic staff put him on medication and got him to lose 25 pounds through diet and exercise. "This has made me change the way I live my life," he told the Journal.

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Professional services company Towers Watson regularly surveys big employers (1,000 or more employees) to find out how they are spending their health care dollars. In 2011, 23 percent of companies surveyed said they had an onsite medical clinic; in 2012, 28 percent; in 2013 that rose to 32 percent. Some 39 percent say they will provide an onsite clinic in 2014.

Towers Watson consultant Shelly Wolff tells ABC News that companies with clinics cite reasons for having them besides cost-savings and reduced work loss. They can be "an attraction," she says: a reason an employee might want to go to work for the company. Similarly, a clinic can be part of an employer's strategy for improving employee retention.

A 2012 survey found that although nearly three quarters of senior management views clinics positively, their enthusiasm does not arise from a clinic's return on investment. Why not? Because more than half of the companies that have a clinic either don't track its ROI, or, if they do track it, senior management doesn't know what it is.

Why, then, are top managers such big believers?

"Sometimes," says Wolff, "it just comes down to a matter of philosophy. For some of them, it's just the right thing to do."

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