Telehealth has seen explosive growth in recent years, particularly due to the shift away from in-person care during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, compared to 14.3% in 2018, video doctor “visits” increased to over 70%. And the number of people utilizing telehealth for chronic care management nearly tripled from 2018 to 2020.
Additionally, there has been no slowing down of telehealth numbers in recent years, especially in younger generations (ages 18-40). They continued to use it as the most viable and convenient option for getting their care.
These numbers tell us a few things:
- Convenience plays a major factor in how we receive care in 2022.
- Doctors are able to shift to more remote and virtual options easily.
- Lower out-of-pocket costs for virtual appointments make it possible for anyone to get the care they need with or without insurance.
These benefits are huge reasons why people have shifted towards and continue to use telehealth as their primary version of care. But how much does it cost?
The average cost of a telehealth visit is $79 without health insurance. However, this is based on an average flat rate and can fluctuate based on additional services, labs, or additional testing ordered.
How Is Cost Determined for Virtual Telehealth Appointments?
In addition to additional services rendered, telehealth appointments can vary based on insurance, not having insurance, and the app or facility you go through. Below are a few popular telehealth platforms with their flat-rate fees associated.
- Amwell $79
- Doctor on Demand $75
- MDLive $82
- Mira $20
- Teladoc $75
Other factors that determine how much a telehealth appointment will cost include:
Whether you have insurance or not is not always a determining factor to getting the care you need via telehealth. In fact, many people simply choose to just pay the upfront fee rather than see what insurance will cover. You may also have the option to pay upfront and get it reimbursed via insurance later if you prefer.
Either way, insurance status can change how much the appointment will cost. Also, if you have any of the major insurance coverages like Aetna, Cigna, Blue Cross, Humana, Or United Healthcare—your virtual primary care visit should be covered. The cost of a virtual appointment can vary by plan, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $0-$50 for your telehealth appointment through insurance.
The time of the appointment can also affect how much it costs. Generally, the longer the appointment, the more it will cost. This is due to administrative and doctor time spent on the call.
Before you schedule a telehealth appointment you could ask the providers if fees change by duration and ensure you are only booked (and subsequently charged) for the scheduled time.
The type of services you receive during your telehealth appointment can also affect how much it costs. If you need additional services, like labs or blood work, that will incur an additional cost. In general, the more complex and involved the visit, the higher the cost.
Here are some average costs of additional services your telehealth provider may order:
- Dermatology Assessment $150
- Flu Test $45
- Pap Smear $35 – $140
- Prescription drugs $10 – $100
- STI Screening and Treatment $250
Again, the cost of services can vary based on your insurance and the telehealth provider you go through. Check with your insurance and your provider before adding additional services, lab work, or other items that may up the cost of your appointment.
Who Benefits From Telehealth?
Telehealth is incredibly convenient for many people, but that’s not the only benefit it offers. People who benefit the most from telehealth might include:
- People with disabilities
- People who don’t drive
- Elderly individuals
- People suffering from mental illness
- Those who don’t have insurance
- People managing chronic illness
- People who don’t have an urgent care nearby
- People who get prescriptions delivered
If you don’t fall into one of these categories, that doesn’t mean you can’t use telehealth. It just may be less convenient for you or have fewer benefits. But it’s good to note 1 in 5 physicians in 2022 utilize telehealth practices, which has helped draw more people towards this unconventional option.
What to Expect in a Telehealth Appointment
In order to make the most out of your telehealth appointment, it’s important to understand what to expect.
- First, know that you’ll need a computer or phone with internet access as well as a webcam. You will also need to have the latest version of Skype, FaceTime, or another video chat software downloaded.
- Once you’re ready for your appointment, you will enter the provider’s virtual waiting room. From there, you will be connected with the provider and have the opportunity to ask questions and address any concerns you may have.
- Most telehealth appointments last around 30 minutes but can vary depending on what services you need. After your appointment is complete, the provider will generally send a summary of the visit to your primary care doctor.
If you’re feeling sick or have an emergency, it’s important to go to the nearest hospital or urgent care. Telehealth is not a replacement for traditional medical care and should only be used for routine check-ups, prescriptions, and other minor issues.
Other Options for Virtual Health Care
At-home blood pressure machines, EKG applications, sleep trackers, and continuous glucose monitors are all ways that people can track and manage chronic health conditions from the comfort of their homes.
And many of these items can be charged with or without insurance and can be paid for using HSA or FSA dollars. Virtual health care is not only convenient but affordable for people so they can get the care they need without money being an issue.
Pops Diabetes has been helping people manage their diabetes virtually with ease using the Pops Rebel + Mina continuous glucose monitoring system. To learn more, contact Pops Diabetes or check out our Pops Rebel here.