Telehealth is quickly becoming popular because of the pandemic. With more individuals scheduling online appointments with their doctors, even insurance companies are expanding coverage. Telehealth offers convenience for doctors and patients while keeping hospitals efficiently running.
While the major benefit of telehealth is convenience, many people find it can also help them save money. Telehealth appointments can cost less than an in-person visit and can be a great way to access a doctor for non-emergency medical care.
Here’s how telehealth can save you money.
1. Costs Less
Typically, telehealth visits cost less than regular visits because you’re taking up less of the doctor’s time and fewer hospital resources. However, if you pay the full cost of the visit yourself, you can expect significant savings.
Even if you pay a co-pay, you’ll likely pay less for telehealth, although cost-sharing varies depending on your plan. However, insurance companies typically charge lower co-pays for telehealth visits, which means you can use some of that extra money for your personal finances.
The cost of a telehealth appointment will vary, but it’s a fixed rate which makes predicting how much you’ll owe easier. Compared to visiting an emergency room, your costs will be significantly lower.
Many health conditions can be diagnosed via telehealth appointments, especially if you can communicate what problems you’re experiencing. For example, if you’re suffering from essential tremors and your doctor already knows that, they may be able to come up with different solutions that may help you.
Before you schedule your telehealth appointment, contact your health insurance company to ensure you’ll be covered.
2. No More Time Off Work
Typically, you schedule an appointment based on the doctor’s schedule when you need to see a doctor. If their only available opening is 1 pm on a Tuesday, then you have no choice but to take time off of work, especially if you need to see them as soon as possible. Similarly, many primary care providers’ offices aren’t open on weekends, making visiting your regular doctor inconvenient. If you choose to visit urgent care or a hospital that’s open on the weekend, you’ll have to sacrifice more money for convenience.
By scheduling a telehealth appointment instead of a regular doctor’s visit, you can have your visit in the comfort of your own home by taking a long lunch from work instead of the whole day off. You can also choose to have your doctor’s appointment in your office at work.
You can also choose times for your appointment that are after work.
Telehealth sometimes doesn’t even require you to hop on a video call with your doctor. Instead, you can submit photos about your concerns or virtually chat with them without leaving your desk. For example, if you have a dermatological issue you’re worried about, you can send a photo to your doctor that will determine whether or not you need to schedule an appointment. Again, this will save you time, money, and hassle because you can do it from anywhere.
3. Save on Transportation Costs
Telehealth doesn’t require you to go anywhere. Your doctor might even request a telehealth appointment before scheduling an in-person visit just in case it’s something that can be resolved without having to make an appointment. Also, thanks to telehealth, you no longer have to jump in your car or find any other transportation to your doctor’s office, which will save you money on gas, parking, or public transportation.
Those who don’t have immediate access to medical care will save even more money. Instead of getting on a bus to get to the doctor’s office that’s miles and miles away, they can have an appointment from the comfort of their own homes.
4. Better Access to Healthcare
We take access to healthcare for granted, but as we’ve mentioned, some don’t have the same level of access to healthcare that many of us do. If those individuals wanted to see a doctor, they might have to travel miles upon miles just to make it to a preliminary appointment. Then, if the appointment required a follow-up, they’d have to travel again. For those that don’t have a doctor’s office on every corner, making it to a specialist can be an expensive trip.
5. Saves on Childcare
When you need to see a doctor, you typically have to take time off, but you also need to find childcare. Who will pick your child up from school if you have a doctor’s appointment at 3 pm when school gets out? Childcare is expensive, even if it’s hiring a babysitter for just one afternoon.
Instead of hiring child care, you can schedule a telehealth appointment when you know you’ll be home with your child so you don’t have to leave the house or worry about someone watching them while you’re not there. Instead, you can watch your children while getting the care you need from a doctor.
6. More Convenience
If you have an emergency late at night, your only options are to go to urgent care or the emergency room at the hospital. These visits cost more money because they’re after regular hours. Using telehealth in place of visiting a doctor, if possible, can cost significantly less. However, it’s important to note that your after-hours telehealth appointment will likely be more expensive than your daytime telehealth appointment.
Consider your health concerns before booking your appointment for a time that’s considered after hours. For example, if you’re suffering from acid reflux, ask yourself if an appointment can wait until the morning or you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
7. More Mental Health Services
Telehealth has expanded to cover mental health services, which are typically very expensive. By offering more mental health services, patients can find their providers online and determine who to work with based on how much it will cost them or if their insurance covers it.
Without access to more providers, patients are stuck with only a few providers in their insurance company’s network, and even then, they still might have to pay out of pocket. Instead, patients can find the right specialist for them without worrying about how expensive it will be.
8. Can Prevent Misdiagnoses
Sometimes doctors make mistakes because they’re so rushed. Going from patient to patient and always in a hurry, doctors can’t give you the in-person time they need to accurately diagnose an issue. Ultimately, telehealth frees up their time because they won’t have to hop from patient to patient as quickly, which gives them more time to talk with you and understand your concerns before coming up with a solution.
Because telehealth allows you to communicate with your doctor much more easily, you can also update your doctor on your progress. Regular updates let your doctor know they didn’t misdiagnose you and can check in with you more often than they could without telehealth services.
Telehealth is best for those who don’t have an emergency concern better addressed at a hospital or urgent care. You should only book a telehealth appointment if you have a concern that a doctor might address through video chat, photos, and online communication.
About the Author:
Marné Amoguis holds a B.A. in International Business from UC San Diego. She is a contributing writer at 365businesstips.com where she loves sharing her passion for digital marketing. Outside of writing, she loves traveling, playing music, and hiking.