Health care – both the care itself and receiving it safely – is something you should always think about as part of your overall health and well-being. But sometimes, taking the time and energy to go physically see a doctor can be tough. Maybe you’re worried about the cost or the distance; perhaps you don’t want to risk going out or maybe visiting a physician with any kind of frequency is just something you don’t feel like doing. But there are many reasons to go to the doctor and with modern telemedicine, it’s easier than ever. Here’s a quick guide on what to expect and how to get started with setting up your first virtual doctor’s visit.
Find Out What Conditions are Treated
The beginning of your telemedicine journey should start with a foundation of proper research. In this case, that means finding out what conditions a doctor can treat during your virtual doctor’s visit. You’d be surprised at just how varied and extensive these treatments can be. Struggling with arthritis? A virtual doctor can help. Do you have a sports injury that needs attention? They can help with that, too. What if you have a chronic condition that requires frequent follow-ups? Virtual doctors can treat those as well. Bronchitis, asthma, insect bites, infections, acne, pink eye, sore throats, sinus issues, skin problems, rashes, sprains, bladder infections, urinary tract infections, vomiting, nausea, colds, and allergies are all ailments that practitioners of telemedicine can typically treat effectively.
Finding a Virtual Doctor
There are a few ways to find a virtual doctor, beginning with an online search and checking with your insurance provider to see if they offer access to a telemedicine or telehealth service. Some do as part of their benefits, while others don’t. There are several telemedicine organizations that specialize in providing remote healthcare such as Teladoc, Amwell, and Doctor on Demand. Each service has its pros and cons (you’ll have to research them as part of your selection process). PlushCare and Everydaydoctor.com are more accessible and popular options for your telemedicine needs. They’re a HIPPA-compliant organization that serves as not only a repository of health and medical information but a well-organized company that puts patients directly in touch with prospective remote doctors in their state.
Book an Appointment
Booking an online doctor’s appointment couldn’t be simpler. Telemedicine is designed to streamline the process of setting up an appointment. All you need to do is search for doctors in your state and the site can match you with an available doctor with whom you can set an appointment for the very same day. When you’re in the appointment itself, make sure you’ve installed the necessary HIPAA-compliant software, have a decent internet connection, and working microphone/speakers.
Use your Health Insurance
As with any form of medical care in the United States, telemedicine does require insurance. The larger insurance providers (Aetna, United Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Cigna) typically cover telehealth/telemedicine appointments as a provision of their various plans. Conversely, private insurance providers have their own rules regarding telemedicine and what they’ll cover. Medicaid coverage varies by state. Medicare typically covers most telehealth appointments, but as with any insurance provider, you’ll need to ensure the plan covers it prior to making your first appointment. It could be a copayment or deductible. What insurance covers is also governed somewhat by various state laws. The cost of a given telemedicine visit largely depends on what’s being treated, if you’re getting a prescription refill, and various other factors. In the absence of insurance coverage, some companies may charge a flat fee to access an online doctor.
Getting your prescriptions is usually pretty easy with most telemedicine organizations. Consulting an online doctor for a prescription is one of the simplest ways to get a new medicine they’ve determined you need or to refill an existing one. An e-prescription is a boon to someone requiring medicine for a chronic condition like an acne treatment or insulin injections for treating diabetes. It’s especially convenient because telemedicine can sometimes facilitate a prescription refill without directly consulting the doctor. Remember that every state has different laws governing what can and can’t be e-prescribed and it also depends on the telemedicine organization and doctor themselves to make final decisions. In some cases, a doctor can send a prescription straight to your preferred pharmacy after your appointment and you can pick it up later the same day.