Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020 at 1:03 am
It can be unpleasant to have to go to the doctor’s office while sick. In the time of coronavirus, a waiting room could be dangerous, especially for people who do not have strong immune systems. Telemedicine is a safer solution – and might save you some money.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it has expanded access to telehealth services during the COVID-19 outbreak. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded Medicare coverage for telehealth visits. HHS Office of Civil Rights announced it will waive potential HIPPA penalties for good faith use of telemedicine during the pandemic. HHS Office of Inspector General provided flexibility for healthcare providers to reduce or waive beneficiary cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid for by federal healthcare programs.
People who are working from home should check their employer sponsored health insurance to see if telemedicine is covered. U.S. News reported that almost al large employers now offer telehealth services as part of their employee coverage. And more health plans are expanding telehealth into behavioral health, which helps provide therapists and psychologists in areas that suffer from a shortage of providers.
U.S. News says that the national median cost for a video-based telemedicine visit is $50, compared to $85 for a low-severity treatment at a doctor’s office, $130 for an urgent care facility visit, and $740 for an emergency room visit (according to UnitedHealthcare).
Telemedicine can save you money because it costs less than if you went to see a doctor in-person. If there is a co-pay, it is typically much lower than the co-pay at the doctor’s office would be.
You might have to miss work to go see a doctor in person. Telemedicine means you can still work from home while waiting for the doctor to contact you.