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What's Telemedicine? A Comprehensive Guide with Price Comparisons of Top Telemedicine Providers

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

According to Federation of State Medical Boards, “Telemedicine means the practice of medicine using electronic communications, information technology, or other means between a licensee in one location, and a patient in another location, with or without an intervening healthcare provider. Generally, telemedicine is not an audio-only, telephone conversation, e-mail/instant

messaging conversation, or fax. It typically involves the application of secure videoconferencing or store and forward technology to provide or support healthcare delivery by replicating the interaction of a traditional, encounter in person between a provider and a patient.”

Telemedicine is a healthcare practice that involves using technology, such as video calls and online platforms, to connect patients with healthcare providers remotely.

Telemedicine enables individuals to consult with healthcare professionals from the comfort of their homes. Through virtual appointments, patients can discuss medical concerns, receive diagnoses, and obtain treatment plans. This approach enhances accessibility, especially for those in remote areas, and promotes timely healthcare delivery without the need for in-person visits. Telemedicine encompasses a range of services, from general medical consultations to specialized care like mental health support, fostering convenience and expanding healthcare reach.

Over the last few years, the shift towards telemedicine has been significant, driven by technological advancements and a growing need for convenient healthcare solutions. Patients can now connect with healthcare providers through video calls, ensuring that geographical barriers do not hinder access to medical expertise. This digital transformation has proven particularly valuable in situations where in-person visits may be challenging, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telemedicine is not limited to general medical consultations; it encompasses a wide range of services, including specialized care like mental health support. This expansion of virtual healthcare options fosters convenience, making it easier for individuals to prioritize their health without compromising on accessibility.

Remember that membership with the Telemedicine providers is not a complete substitute for your health insurance. It’s rather an add-on as membership with telemedicine providers could give you access to their virtual care network and any exclusive savings and discounts. Additionally, there are some Telemedicine providers who don’t accept insurance. However, if your Telemedicine provider does accept insurance you would need to make sure that insurance carrier covers the services. Make sure you to get prior-authorization when necessary to avoid any unnecessary out of pocket expenses.

As the healthcare landscape evolves, telemedicine emerges as a powerful tool, offering convenient and accessible healthcare options. To help you navigate this digital healthcare terrain, we've compiled a comparison of some of the notable telemedicine providers (see below table). These providers include Amazon (One Medical), Healthtap, Teladoc, Plush Care, Sesame Care, and GoodRx. Recently, COSTCO, a mult-billion dollar globar retailer with warehouse club operations in eight countries also lauched COSTCO Health Insurance through Sesame.

How to Use the Below Table

Membership Fee: Understand the cost structure for membership. Some providers offer free memberships, while others have monthly fees. Consider your budget and frequency of use.

Price per Visit: Compare the costs associated with each visit, both with and without membership. Evaluate how these fees align with your healthcare needs.

Insurance Accepted: Check if the provider accepts your insurance. If yes, it could significantly impact your out-of-pocket expenses. Some of these providers don’t accept health insurance which might help them keep prices low. This could also mean getting care at a lower price along with flexibility to see a doctor remotely while paying for services based as you use them.

Types of Care Offered: Assess the range of services provided by each telemedicine company. Choose a provider that aligns with your specific healthcare requirements, whether it's urgent care, mental health support, or specialized care.

Additionally, Costco offers its members online healthcare services for $29. This initiative is in partnership with Sesame. Here are some of the perks Costco members can enjoy:

  • Virtual primary care ($29).

  • Health check-ups, including a standard lab panel and a virtual follow-up consultation with a provider ($72).

  • Virtual mental health therapy ($79).

  • 10% off other Sesame services, including in-person appointments. To learn more Costco members would need to create an account and verify membership. Here's a link to sign up for Sesame and get special pricing for Costco members.

Deciding on Telemedicine Support

Telemedicine represents a modern approach to healthcare, breaking down traditional barriers and bringing medical expertise directly to individuals. The virtual shift has not only made healthcare more accessible but has also played a crucial role in adapting to the changing dynamics of our world, where convenience and efficiency are paramount.

As telehealth plays a greater role in healthcare delivery, patients have more options to securely access both urgent and specialized treatment. By understanding the range of virtual care providers, you can find the service that best matches your specific medical situation, coverage, budget and preferences.




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