The coronavirus has changed everything — especially healthcare. With social distancing a high priority, going to the doctor for a nonmedical emergency may not be possible. Fortunately, telemedicine has stepped in to take doctor visits remote. But how much does a telehealth visit cost, and is it a good replacement for a visit to your physician?
What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine refers to remote doctor’s visits. It all happens from a distance: Instead of going to a doctor’s office, you’ll consult from the comfort of your home.
With an internet connection and a computer or smartphone to broadcast the video feed, you’ll have access to specialists and other types of medical care that you may normally not have. For people living in underserved communities or rural areas, a whole new world of opportunities opens up. And in light of the dangers of COVID-19 for high-risk folks, such as the elderly, consulting with a doctor remotely is a safer choice.
Even though telemedicine takes place at a distance, it has some similarities to a regular visit at an office. The doctor will discuss your medical issue with you and, if needed, prescribe medicine or order lab tests, which you can pick up or take at a nearby location.
How Much Does a Telehealth Visit Cost?
Anyone who’s gotten an expensive bill after visiting the doctor’s office might wonder, “Are telehealth visits cheaper?” A telehealth consultation with a doctor is typically less expensive than an in-person visit to a doctor’s office. It’s a great way to reduce your healthcare costs. Plus, if you have health insurance, telehealth visits may be free.
A 2017 study found that a telehealth visit costs an average of $79, compared to $146 for a doctor’s visit and $1,734 for an emergency room visit. Here’s a sampling of the current telehealth visit cost, by provider, for patients with no health insurance.
|How Much Does a Telehealth Visit Cost?|
|Amwell||• Psychiatry: $269 the first visit, $99 thereafter
• Therapy: $99 to $110
• Urgent care: $79
|Dr+ on Demand||• General: $75
• Therapy: Starting at $129
• Psychiatry: $299, first visit
|MeMD||• General: $67
• Psychiatry: $229 first visit, $99 thereafter
• Teen therapy: $85
• Urgent care: $67
|MDLive||• Dermatology: $75
• General: $82
• Therapy: $108
• Psychiatry: $284
|Teladoc||• Dermatology: $95
• General: $75
• Mental health: $99
What Services Are Available Through Telemedicine?
As you can see in the chart, you can get help with most common issues. Most telehealth services have doctors and nurse practitioners available 24 hours per day. Services available include:
- General medicine
- Urgent care
Telemedicine vs. Traditional Doctor Visits
Telemedicine is incredibly convenient, but not necessarily a replacement for a traditional doctor’s visit. Most healthy adults and young families can get by using telemedicine for the bulk of their medical consultations. But as with all medical advice, it’s best to consult with a trusted physician about your medical needs to determine if telemedicine is the wisest choice.
In addition, a telehealth doctor can order lab tests for you to take in your town, review the results digitally and follow up with you. The same goes for prescription drugs: Online doctors can send an electronic prescription to the pharmacy of your choice.
Individuals with chronic or serious medical conditions are better off sticking with an in-person doctor or specialist. Developing a relationship with a single doctor who understands your medical history isn’t guaranteed when you use telemedicine. Many telehealth websites have a rotating line-up of doctors.
How To Reduce the Cost of Telehealth Visits
A telemedicine video chat is typically less expensive than a regular doctor’s visit if you’re a cash patient. Paying less than $100 out of pocket occasionally to treat an infection or a bug bite may not break the bank — unless you find yourself using a teledoctor more often. If that’s the case, there are other ways you can slash your medical bills using telehealth.
Most health insurance providers reimburse telehealth visits and may even waive deductibles for remote medical consultations. Before deciding on telehealth, you may want to check your healthcare plan for coverage. You may find that online doctor visits are free.
Medical Part B patients have access to discounted rates and are only responsible for 20% of the telehealth cost.
Many telemedicine companies will offer customers a subscription-based membership. The subscriptions save you money on healthcare costs. Instead of paying for a single visit, you pay a monthly fee to have more access to doctors’ consultations. Here is what a telemedicine membership is like:
|Telehealth Visit Cost by Membership|
|Provider||Monthly fee||Number of consultations allowed|
|HealthTap||$10, prepaid annually||Unlimited video or text chats|
|HealthPoint Plus||• $12.95 per month
• $14.95 per month
|• Unlimited urgent care
• Unlimited urgent care and mental health
|iCliniq||• $99 per month
• $49 per month when prepaid for six months
• $29 per month, prepaid annually
|50 hours of chat|
Where To Find Telemedicine Options
Besides the telehealth websites mentioned, you can get telemedicine support locally. In addition, your online doctor can prescribe you medicine or even order lab tests, which you can complete at a lab near you.
Other companies offering telemedicine options and testing include: