Have you ever woken up with a nasty cold or sinus infection, knew you had to see a doctor, but didn’t have the means or energy to physically make an appointment? What about treatment for a chronic illness or a prescription refill? Getting treated remotely by a medical professional using telemedicine is a great way to answer all of these pressing medical questions and more. Telemedicine has been around for some time, but it really came into prominence over the past year as the Covid-19 pandemic affected the lives of millions around the globe. Finding the right service comes down to a number of factors. Does your insurance cover it? Is it easy to use? How much does it cost? Do they offer prescriptions? What kind of ailments or conditions do they treat? Most insurances these days do offer some form of telemedicine to their members, but it varies. Here is a look at five telemedicine companies you may want to explore for your next online doctor’s visit.
Teladoc is probably the most well-known telemedicine provider. They were founded on the idea that everyone should have access to great healthcare from anywhere in the world, on their own time. They provide what’s called “whole-person virtual care.” This means that the provider doesn’t merely focus on one aspect of a person’s health, like physical issues. It means they address all the needs of an entire individual: physical, mental, and emotional. To accomplish this, they connect patients to appropriate healthcare specialists to provide the care they need. Teladoc covers familiar territory like primary care, ongoing medical conditions, and mental health. They also offer complex care to help guide patients through decision-making and planning future surgeries/procedures (which Teladoc will not actually perform; you have to go to an in-person visit for that). They can also cover some degree of specialty care on top of their whole-person care model. Prices once again vary based on your insurance. On the plus side, they seek to reduce unnecessary or incorrect treatments, offering access to an array of medical experts and extensive telemedicine resources. Unfortunately, your insurance may not cover their services, so be sure to double-check that before using this service.
MDLive is a telemedicine service based out of Florida. They’ve been around since 2009 and feature board-certified physicians covering all 50 states. MDLive treats many conditions, including depression, Covid-19, insect bites, headaches, rashes, panic disorders, skin infections, bipolar, anxiety, pink eye, yeast infections, obsessive-compulsive disorder, hives, and many others. They do not provide any emergency care or replace a primary care physician. They’re also unable to treat sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections in males, or children under the age of three who have a fever. They’re also very restricted on the medications they can prescribe to patients. Their website provides access to a number of telehealth/telemedicine resources in addition to their services. They do a good job of following HIPAA compliance and offer an accessibility service to the hearing impaired. It can cost anywhere from $0 – $82 per consultation/virtual visit, depending on the treatment and your insurance provider. This usually covers anything under the “urgent care” umbrella such as allergies, colds, flu, prescription refills, sore throats, female UTIs, and similar conditions. Therapy visits run a bit more ($0-$108) and dermatology consultations (acne, skin rashes, warts, eczema) will range from $0-$95. Booking an appointment can be a bit clunky on mobile, but offers a more streamlined approach via their website. MD Live lacks some of the additional resources other telemedicine providers have as well.
Plushcare is incredibly versatile and offers excellent additional resources for its patients. They offer a pool of over 100 licensed virtual doctors who can quickly and easily help patients devise treatment plans, address their medical concerns, and provide access to prescriptions. PlushCare treats a wide range of urgent medical concerns (cold, flu, allergies, sinus, UTI), mental health (panic, anxiety, OCD, depression), primary medical care (prescriptions, birth control), and ongoing care (diabetes, asthma, thyroid, hypertension). Many of the big insurance companies (United, Aetna, Humana, Cigna) cover them in-network and many other insurances follow suit. Check with yours to see if they cover Your co-pay will vary by insurance, but it’s affordable even without insurance or an in-network provider: appointments are just a flat fee of $119. Their website is intuitive and easy to use, guiding users through the appointment booking process. Additionally, they provide $5 labs, membership services, an extensive helpline, and doctor’s notes for their patients.
Doctor On Demand
Doctor on Demand is a virtual health care company located in California. Their primary goal is to connect anyone to accessible, affordable healthcare regardless of whether they’re insured. They offer similar treatments as others on this list, including urgent care, chronic condition management, and teletherapy. One thing they specialize in is wellness visits (covering both men’s and women’s health), family medicine, and diet/nutrition consultations—which is not a common offering among telemedicine companies. They also provide 24/7 access and a comprehensive resource center for their user’s accounts. Patients can access any of their visitation notes at any time and get information on an as-needed basis from the provider. Appointment costs generally start at $75 for a 15-minute visit for medical and $129 for mental health consultations. They take Medicare and many other insurances, but there are still some gaps in which insurers and health plans cover them.
Amwell is a Boston-based telemedicine service that uses certified board doctors to offer telemedicine to a large number of users. In addition to offering urgent care, therapy, and prescriptions, Amwell also provides nutrition counseling, breastfeeding support, and pediatric support. While they can aptly cover any of the conditions normally associated with telemedicine, there are many conditions they are not equipped to address or treat. These are:
- Chest pain
- Neurological symptoms
- Difficulty breathing
- Dizziness or loss of consciousness
- Sudden bleeding
- Severe Hypertension
- Head injury
- Broken bones
They take about ten minutes on average per appointment and runs about $79 per appointment and they take a diverse array of insurances. Even if they can’t treat a particular condition remotely, Amwell’s doctors will still willingly discuss it with the patient and make recommendations for future in-person care.