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IBM Drops Employee Co-Pay for Primary Care Visits

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In what's seen as a highly unusual move, IBM says it will stop requiring employees to shell out a $20 co-payment when they see a primary care physician.

The company says the decision will save costs by encouraging employees to be seen and treated by primary care physicians sooner, thus reducing the likelihood of later expensive visits to emergency departments and specialists, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The policy change "is designed to encourage people to get fixed early. .... We'd rather diagnose a situation and deal with it quickly as opposed to it becoming chronic," said Randy MacDonald, senior vice president for human resources.

IBM's decision is "very unusual," said Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, a trade group representing large employers. "The number of employers who cover primary-physician visits without a co-pay is miniscule," she told the Wall Street Journal.

IBM is one of the largest employers in the United States, and its actions sometimes begin new trends.

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