In our last post, we took a look at some millennial healthcare trends. Millennials make up a big portion of the American workforce and have a lot of spending power in healthcare. To recap:
(1) Millennials are a generally healthy group, minimizing the amount they actually utilize their coverage. (2) When millennials do interact with the industry, most value their time and money above personal relationships with their providers.
Based these consumer habits, we discussed retail clinics as a time and cost-saving alternative to a doctor’s office visit. Another alternative is telemedicine.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine allows for a patient’s remote diagnosis and treatment through various communication platforms. Depending on the provider, phone, 2-way video, and/or email might be used and can include still-images, video and patient-provider conversation.
All this to say, with telemedicine you receive care without being in the same room as your provider.
The Advantages of Telemedicine
It’s easy to see how medical care that’s not tied to a specific location and appointment time can be super useful. Telemedicine addresses:
Finding a spare moment to visit a physician’s office can be tough for parents, professionals and anyone balancing a demanding schedule. Telemedicine cuts down on the commute, in-office waiting and, sometimes, the restriction of an office’s hours. (Some telemedicine services boast 24/7 access to a provider!)
A telehealth visit is often more affordable than an in-office appointment. Depending on the details of your health plan, telemedicine copays may be considerably less. With the potential to keep dollars in your pocket, it’s an option definitely worth looking into. Visit your health insurance’s website and take a look at your plan’s benefit details to see if telemedicine is a covered service.
But Let’s Be Real…
Telemedicine is an option for some, but it may not be the best choice for you. It all comes down to what type of care you need and if telemedicine can provide it. Keep in mind:
Telemedicine is Limited
Just like retail clinics, the type of conditions telemedicine can actually treat is limited. Many offices and telehealth services can help with a common, chronic condition like a cold, pink eye, or urinary tract infection. Use your best judgement and ask questions before scheduling your appointment.
If you choose to utilize a telehealth appointment, there’s always a chance you’ll be told you need to be seen by a provider. That means you risk paying twice: once for the telehealth appointment and now for when you actually go into your provider’s office.
If telemedicine sounds like an option you’d find useful now or in the future, remember to:
- Check the details of your health plan. Many private insurers cover at least some telehealth services, but there might be restrictions and/or specific providers that are approved to provide care. You can find this information online or give your health insurance provider a call.
- Stay in-network. Once you’ve had a chance to review the services available to you, make sure you stick to your network. You may be partially or fully financially responsible for out-of-network care.
- Have your insurance ID card handy. Just like an in-office appointment, you will need your insurance information available.
Have a Question About Telemedicine?