On-demand, virtual doctors are an interesting point of conversation right now but will they replace face-to-face office visits or can they cut healthcare costs? What does virtual healthcare mean to the industry overall? It is important that we look into some of these things and how they will affect the healthcare industry that we know. Here are some things you should know about virtual healthcare and the cost.
Changes in employment insurance coverage
With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, many companies are changing the way they offer insurance to their employees. And, in some cases, employees who did not qualify for company benefits are now eligible for insurance through the exchanges established by the ACA. This both increases and decreases the access to healthcare for some individuals. Virtual doctors could make this more accessible and affordable. Patients could receive information they need through technology available at home or other locations.
The costs and the benefits
There are a number of services currently available around the country. The cost varies, but approximately $50 per month is common. For many people, this cost is less than an office visit co-pay or a visit to the urgent care. And, if there is immediate danger to the patient, they are quickly fast tracked to the appropriate specialist.
Limited coverage areas
However, due to the limited coverage areas of these types of services not everyone can utilize them. These online services are mostly available near larger metro areas as this time. There is at least one virtual healthcare service available for residents of the Washington DC area. For people without access to the service, the cost savings and benefits are non-existent.
Impact on emergency visits and urgent care
For people who do use these services, experts have noticed a reduction in the number of emergency room visits and the need for urgent care services. This will allow for hospitals to treat more critical care patients more efficiently. This is especially true for elderly patients who may not have their own transportation to make it to regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments.
Access to individuals who would not have sought out care at all
In fact, virtual doctors are already demonstrating their worth for people who may have avoided care at all. This includes people who are convinced they can wait out the illness on their own and those who have social anxiety or phobia issues who aren’t comfortable being in a public place such as a doctor’s office or hospital.
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