The Push towards Telemedicine
How many times have you been bothered by a cough, rash, fever, or other minor medical problem, but can’t easily get to your regular doctor? Imagine being able to be seen by a doctor without leaving your home or office. Or having access to medical care when you’re traveling.
Telemedicine may be the answer.
Most major health insurance carriers are making a big push towards including telemedicine — online doctor visits — as a covered benefit on their health plans.
Anthem BC/BS launched a telemedicine service, LiveHealth Online, back in 2013 to a limited market. Last summer, it was made available as a covered benefit to all Anthem BC/BS policyholders. Non-Anthem policyholders can also use the service for a fee of $49.
Anthem will begin heavily publicizing LiveHealth Online to its members — both individual and group policyholders — in the upcoming weeks, and will be offering incentives for those who register by a certain date.
So if you are an Anthem customer, be on the lookout for more information via phone, email, or direct mail. Rumor has it they’ll be offering prizes like a chance to win a $500 gift card.
Benefits of Telemedicine
Telemedicine is a trend that is not likely to go away, given today’s busy lives and increasing reliance on technology.
The benefits of an online doctor visit are not hard to imagine:
- Doctor available 24/7, 365 days a year from wherever you happen to be (as long as you have access to internet service and a computer or mobile device!)
- Faster than a visit to urgent care when your regular doctor is not available
- No appointment necessary
- No driving
- No long wait times
- Access to prescriptions in many states (including Virginia, Maryland, DC)
When to Use Telemedicine
Of course, there are times when an online visit will not be not a good substitute for an actual visit with your regular doctor. For serious health issues, it’s best to be seen in person. For medical emergencies, you should seek immediate care or call 911.
We strongly recommend you develop and maintain an in-person relationship with your primary care provider so you have someone you trust to manage your health.
But for times when convenience is important, an online visit to address more minor things like allergies, colds, sore throats, pink eye, flu, sinus infection, stomach bug, rashes, etc., may be appropriate.
Learn more about the benefits of telemedicine here.