Some health insurers are now letting people be seen online for certain ailments as a way to solve the problem of overcrowded hospitals and doctor clinics. Patients who are insured under participating companies are able to have an e-visit to give the doctor a chance to decide whether in-person medical care is necessary or not. Insurance companies have been partnering with other companies that provide these e-visit services. During an e-visit in some states, a doctor may prescribe medications for smaller issues such as chronic pain or infections. There are many patients who have busy schedules and limited time to see a doctor, so they like the new e-visit option. However, physicians point out that this new idea may heighten the possibility of a wrong diagnosis. They explained that some complaints could indicate a minor issue posing no danger or a serious issue that could be life threatening.
Doctors are not able to look down a person’s throat or in the individual’s ears for signs of other issues that may indicate a need for antibiotics or certain treatments. Some experts said they felt confident that the physicians in their clinics had the necessary skills to determine when in-person care was needed and when certain ailments could be taken care of with minor steps or medications. One physician pointed out that online services can cut down on many expenses for patients, medical professionals and insurers. It also gives isolated patients easier access to medical services and would cut down on overcrowding in emergency rooms.
This debate is one that has received input from the country’s top medical associations. One major association recently provided guidelines to help mold the development of telemedicine. In addition to this, state licensing boards have drafted policies of their own, and top health insurers are doing their part to contribute to the growth of virtual medical care.
Researchers said many people are comfortable seeing a doctor online, so it will be a process more people will learn to understand and accept over time. Nearly every person has at least one story of having to go to an emergency room or urgent care clinic for an issue that is not life threatening but still having to wait a long time to be seen. Such people are the biggest proponents of this new virtual care. Another benefit is that people who are sick on or near holidays will not have to leave the house to speak with a physician, so minor recurring issues that they can identify themselves are easy to take care of during busy times.
Patients who have health plans with high deductibles also like this option because it costs less. An e-visit costs an average of $50, but a typical ER visit is upward of $1,200. There are many more benefits to using telemedicine and e-visits. As time passes, consumers can expect to see more insurers adding this option and routine or smaller issues, putting a smaller dent in their wallets as well. To learn more about options, contact ACBI.