In recent years, the use of telehealth services has grown exponentially. the ease of technology has given the average patient access to telehealth services without much difficulty.
Furthermore, the covid-19 pandemic spawned new approaches and innovations in healthcare and also launched a new wave in healthcare and medicine.
In this article, I cover all the factors that affect the cost of telehealth and some easy ways to help you save money.
what is telehealth?
Telehealth is the use of technology to provide medical care to patients remotely. It can be done in several ways, but the most common is through a video chat or a phone call.
The patient can log into a secure program and have their vital signs monitored by the remote doctor, who can then work with them on any health issues they may have.
There have been many studies on telehealth and the kind of effect it has on patients’ health.
most of them say that using this technology to communicate with their doctor can help patients have better access to doctors, lower their long-term medical costs, increase patient satisfaction, and even improve job performance of those who work at home.
Telehealth services may be offered as a bundled service like Medicare. however, the three different types of telemedicine services are synchronous, asynchronous, and remote monitoring:
- Synchronous: This form of telehealth is where a doctor and patient can communicate live via video conference or phone. Another type of live (or synchronous) telemedicine visit is a facilitated virtual visit (fvv). in this case, the patient is located at an accessible site (such as a clinic) where diagnostic equipment is available and the medical provider is at a distant site.
- Asynchronous: This form of telehealth, known as a “store and forward” technique, is when the doctor and patient communicate by email, fax, or email. the phone. A patient or doctor collects a medical history, images, and pathology reports and then sends them to a specialist doctor for diagnostic and treatment expertise.
- Remote Monitoring: A device such as a heart monitor allows patient information to be transferred directly to their doctor without the need to meet with them in person. enables continuous assessment of a patient’s clinical status, either through direct video monitoring of the patient or through review of remotely collected tests and images.
- Reputation and Licensing: The more sought after a doctor is, the more they will charge. The license level also plays a role in telehealth costs. Physicians who are board certified tend to charge more for telehealth services than those who are not. Telehealth providers with federal certifications, such as those provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), generally cost more. Some states do not recognize HHS certification, so there may be no reimbursement for eligible professionals who meet HIPAA standards and practice in these states.
- Where you live: The cost of seeing a doctor depends on where you live and how far you have to travel to see a doctor. telehealth services are more expensive in rural areas with fewer providers because doctors have to travel longer distances to see patients.
- Your condition: Telehealth visits cost less for minor illnesses and conditions, such as sinus infections, bronchitis, or laryngitis, because the doctor doesn’t have to perform any tests or exams physical. if you need additional tests or procedures done by a doctor, your costs will go up.
- availability: If the provider you want to see is not available through your insurance, then you will have to pay out of pocket for telehealth services. this can be a problem if you want to talk to a provider that is not available in your area or is not certified.
- Platform: Telehealth providers offering services through state-of-the-art platforms typically cost more than those using older configurations. More expensive platforms, like the one offered by American Well, provide better video and sound quality and make it easier for patients to communicate quickly and effectively with their doctor online. On the other hand, most telecommunications companies and patient portals charge virtually no fees for HIPAA-compliant video consultations; however, the lack of consistency between these options makes it difficult for clinicians to easily find compatible platforms on which to practice.
- Compare: Different insurers may cover different types of telemedicine visits at different rates, so you’ll want to compare policies between providers before signing up for a specific plan. make sure you know what type of virtual appointment your insurer will reimburse you for before you schedule.
- Ask for discounts: Ask for information about any discounts available through your insurer when you call to schedule. many providers offer substantial reductions when insured patients visit the telemedicine portals and apps they have partnered with.
- track costs: take note of how long it takes your doctor to respond via telemedicine compared to traditional means so if the provider offers discounts by using these modes, know which option really saves you money. More patients are turning to technology-based health care options because they offer convenience and speed. however, you should research the best way to save money on telehealth visits before you schedule a session with your doctor.
how much does telehealth cost?
The cost of telehealth depends on whether or not you have insurance, as well as the provider you are using.
A telehealth visit with a doctor is typically less expensive than in-person visits or calls. the average cost of a telehealth visit for an acute respiratory infection (such as sinus infection, laryngitis, or bronchitis) was $79 compared to $146 for an in-person visit.
When you consider the time and gas you save by driving to a doctor’s office, the cost of telehealth may be worth it. however, some low-cost telehealth providers charge more for prescription refills.
Most health plans will cover telehealth services, depending on your benefits. Some plans cover telehealth visits if they take place on pre-approved video platforms.
others cover telehealth with outside providers.
medicare and medicaid have expanded their telehealth and telemedicine coverage. Medicare will pay for office, hospital, and other visits with a wide range of providers, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, and licensed social workers.
It’s always a safe bet to contact your insurance provider for more information on your out-of-pocket costs.
factors that affect the cost of telehealth
It is important to remember that the total cost of telehealth will depend on several factors, such as the condition, your insurance, and the provider. the following may also influence the cost:
how to save on telehealth visits
The benefit of telehealth is that it is more convenient for both patients and providers, but on the other hand, it costs money. Here are some ways to lower the price of your next telehealth visit:
how health can help
Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?
Download k to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed, text a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.