In an effort to curb rising costs for employees and for the company, IBM will be picking up the tab on health care costs for primary care in 2010.
"Employees enrolled in IBM plans will receive full coverage throughout the year--no coinsurance or deductible--for in-network primary care with their internist, family practitioner, pediatrician, general practitioner or primary osteopath," said IBM in a news statement.
This isn't the first effort by Big Blue to help keep employees healthy and functioning productively, nor is it the only company picking up primary care. The company had been picking up the tab on mammograms for women over 40 and colonoscopies for employees, an IBM official told Bloomberg News.
"This new approach advances IBM's advocacy of wellness, preventative and primary care--the cornerstone of keeping people healthy and productive," said Randy MacDonald, senior vice president of human resources, in a statement. "As a result of our focus on wellness and primary care, IBM employees have become healthier and our costs are rising more slowly."
After a year of many job eliminations in the United States and Canada and moves that transitioned many jobs to other countries, IBM appears to be mending some employee relations for those remaining in the country. Estimates from the Alliance@IBM union put IBM layoffs at 10,000 in North America in 2009. IBM does not release statements on job reductions when they occur. The company posts total employee staffing numbers in its annual report.
"We believe in giving people incentives to get health care early and often," said Marianne DeFazio, director of health care benefits and strategy at IBM, to Bloomberg News. "When people have no barriers to getting primary care, you catch things early and you prevent things."
IBM said it has saved roughly $191 million in health care costs between 2004 and 2007 after investing in $79 million in wellness programs.