Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns, many doctor’s offices utilized a type of telemedicine option that allowed them to see patients who needed some sort of medical visit/consultation or treatment while offices were shut down for in-person visits.
Now, even though many offices have opened back up for in-person office visits, many state legislatures, private health insurance providers and doctors are recognizing telemedicine as a great way to reduce costs and keep patients healthier. Read on to learn more about telemedicine, what it is and why it’s likely here to stay for good reason:
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine utilizes various types of technology, like video conferencing and telecommunications to allow healthcare professionals to speak with patients without them coming into a physical in-person office.
What are the Benefits of Telemedicine?
The benefits of telemedicine are many. The following are just a few:
1. Diagnose a Wide Range of Conditions
Of course, not every situation yields itself to such a visit. However, many types of issues can be adequately addressed using telemedicine technology. For example, in most cases, stomach aches, flu-like symptoms, headaches, sore throats, and more can be diagnosed and treated all without patients leaving their homes. Therapy and counseling visits can also easily be taken out of the office and completed via virtual means.
2. Give Access to Specialists Who are Far Away
It can help those who are far from specialists or certain doctors they need to see but can’t get to in person. In fact, Medicare already has telemedicine coverage available to make sure that patients in remote and rural areas have access to specialists who may not be available nearby, which is yet another benefit of this type of technology.
3. Keep Healthy Patients From Getting Sick
Telemedicine can also keep well patients safer when they go visit their doctor. If sick patients are able to stay home, in the comfort of their homes, and still be treated by their doctor for the flu or a sore throat, they won’t be coming into a doctor’s office, spreading their germs to those who are there for well-visits. Therefore, in some cases not only can telemedicine help in financial ways, but it can also reduce the spread of common illnesses that can easily be treated by doctors via video conferencing technology.
4. Cut Down Wait Times
We have all been there, having to wait in the doctor’s office for our allotted time. Thankfully, yet another benefit of telemedicine could be cutting down on patient wait times. It stands to reason if doctors are able to see some patients via conference, instead of in person, that would reduce the number of patients who have to come in and wait their turn to be seen.
5. After-Hour Treatment
In many cases, individuals can see their dedicated family physician via video conference, as opposed to an in-person office visit, but also have the option of connecting with a physician contracted through their insurance carrier for a reasonable cost. This service model is offered through most insurance carriers and includes extended hours. This could potentially save you expensive trips to urgent care when acute episodes occur, providing convenient after-hour care. You should of course consult a doctor to discuss these options, as telehealth visits are not always the best option if you are dealing with a chronic condition that requires ongoing care.
Will My Health Insurance Cover Telemedicine?
This is a question that has to be answered by each insurance company. In general, health insurance coverage for telemedicine is impacted by federal and state laws as well as individual insurance companies' policies. Therefore, the best way to verify online treatment availability and coverage is simply to ask your insurance provider.
In order to verify whether your telemedicine appointment will be covered, be prepared to give specific information like your provider’s name, the reason for your treatment or appointment, and the name of your specific insurance plan and group number.
Bottom Line: Telemedicine is Here to Stay
While telemedicine has been used successfully by patients and doctors for decades now, it has become immensely more popular and commonplace in our pandemic era. Admittedly, it can’t take the place of in-person appointments entirely as there are some situations where you need to see your doctor in person for a diagnosis and/or treatment. However, telemedicine is still an important option. Reach out to our team today to see how telehealth coverage can be included in your health insurance policy.