I just received an email from my insurance company, Premera Blue Cross.
Dear subscriber, talk to a real doctor anytime, anywhere!
Set up your account with Teladoc.
And get medical care anytime, anywhere for $40 or less.
You and your eligible dependents can now get care from U.S. board-certified doctors and pediatricians by phone or online video with Teladoc®.
A real doctor? I’m not sure why they felt it necessary to add that adjective.
But aside from that, I was intrigued by the idea that my insurance company wanted to support, even encourage, my family’s use of telemedicine, so I actually read the email rather than deleting it, which is what I usually do.
Teladoc is a convenient and affordable option for getting treated by a doctor anytime, anywhere.* Teladoc doctors can diagnose, recommend treatment, and prescribe medication (when appropriate) for many of your urgent medical issues. Teladoc does not replace your family doctor or primary care doctor. With your consent, Teladoc will provide information about your consult to your primary care doctor.
Teladoc can treat many conditons such as:
- urinary tract infection
- cold and flu symptoms
- respiratory infection
- ear infection
*Teladoc operates subject to state regulation and may not be available in certain states. Teladoc phone consultations are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; video consultations are available 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week. Consults are $40 or less depending on your health plan’s standard in-network office visit cost shares (copay or deductible and coinsurance) are applied.
This informational video was included in the email:
It explains that the average call back time is 22 minutes; 91% of issues are resolved; and 97% of patients are satisfied with the service.
I really like this idea for several reasons.
- It’s difficult to impossible to get a same-day appointment with my primary care provider, and forget about the weekends!
- I have a high-deductible HSA plan, so I pay out of pocket for all costs, even office visits, up to my $10,500 deductible. A 5-minute office visit easily runs over $100.
- I’m a nurse, so the little stuff I can take care of myself, but even I need an occasional prescription. The last time I had a UTI, or bladder infection, I was forced to run around in extreme discomfort for two days before I finally got my $5 worth of Bactrim. The total cost of the office visit plus urine culture? Over $200! I was livid (just another experience that contributed to the birth of Frugal Nurse).
- I travel frequently, so I would love to have this service available if a health issue came up while I was out of town.
I can also understand why Premera (and probably other insurance companies) are embracing Teladoc. As the short video explains, when patients cannot get a timely appointment with their physicians, they often end up in an urgent care clinic or the emergency room.
I know when I had my bladder infection, I was in so much pain I almost went to the ER myself.
And urgent care and emergency rooms cost a whole lot more.
Also, if patients such as myself are happy with the service and with Premera’s support, we will be more likely to renew our current health insurance next year.
It seems to be a good move on Premera’s part, and I plan to take advantage of it.
If you’re interested, contact your health insurance provider and ask if they cover Teladoc as an “in-network” provider.
Teladoc might also be a good option if you don’t have health insurance at all.