A number of online doctor services offer some mental or behavioral health services alongside their general medical offerings — often at a higher cost and with a longer wait for an appointment. These services come across almost as add-on services, though the therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists must be qualified to practice.
However, some online medical services, like BetterHelp. Though its competitor Talkspace is somewhat more recognized, having partnered with Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, BetterHelp. Patients who prefer a live session can schedule it via their smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. Instead of racking up high costs with numerous per-session fees or having to limit contact with your therapist to once a week, patients using BetterHelp.
Medical Malpractice Basics
Somewhat different from most other online medical services is First Opinion. This completely free service offers unlimited messaging 24 hours a day, seven days a week with your Matched Doctor Team MDT.
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You can even find out if you really need to see a doctor, either online or in person, by asking the right questions. However, First Opinion offers messaging services only. What you can do is finally get answers to the health questions you could never get help for in the traditional healthcare system. Teladoc and many of the other online doctor and medical services out there operate on a very different model compared to SteadyMD. Once you request an appointment by phone call, via the website or using the Teladoc mobile app, you can have a video or phone call with a doctor in just minutes, no matter what time of day it is.
Amwell is an online doctor to consider if you want to speak with a physician right away. Once you enroll in the service and choose from the available doctors, you enter a virtual waiting room. It takes only minutes to see a doctor via video chat. A typical online doctor visit with Amwell lasts 10 minutes and is intended to supplement your medical care with your existing doctor rather than replace your PCP.
The Amwell app has been ranked one of the best online medical apps , but you can also call to speak to a doctor over the phone. Quick Picks: Our Top 10 1. AmericanWell How do you choose the best online doctor? Patients can enjoy unlimited texts, phone calls and virtual visits via video chats as part of their SteadyMD membership. If for any reason your doctor is unavailable, other doctors are able to step in to help you with urgent issues.
Before Your Visit
Visits can last as long as an hour, and you can see or speak to your doctor as often as you need. Once you are an established member of SteadyMD, you typically can get same-day appointments and responses to text messages in just minutes, while it can take weeks to get in to see a traditional primary care doctor. You can personalize your medical care by choosing a doctor who shares your interests.
For example, you can choose a doctor who is also a parent, who works with first responders or who is familiar with the LGBTQ community. Many of the interest categories relate to specific exercise or dietary approaches, including weightlifting, running, cycling, the paleo diet or a gluten-free lifestyle. Your doctor sees far fewer patients than a traditional physician, allowing him or her to devote more time to your health needs.
The first appointment is comprehensive but can take one to two days, making it a better choice for patients who want to take charge of their health than for those who are just looking for an immediate appointment to quickly deal with an urgent problem. You only pay for the care you need. You have the option to see a doctor right away — usually within 15 minutes — or book an appointment for a time that is convenient for you. A free iPhone and Android app makes it convenient to see an online doctor from your smartphone.
You can also use a desktop computer with Internet access for videoconferencing appointments or call a toll-free number. Patients can choose their own doctor from a network of qualified physicians and mental health professionals. MDLIVE physicians can prescribe medications if needed and send them directly to your pharmacy, so you can start feeling better faster. The per service flat rate costs are higher than some competitors, though still lower than the cost of a trip to the emergency room.
Your computer must meet specific technical requirements to be able to take part in a videoconferencing exam. Pros and Cons Pros: The cost of a Sherpaa membership, whether at the Basic level or a costlier premium level, is still well below that of a typical emergency room bill. Sherpaa considers itself virtual primary care, not telehealth.
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Sherpaa doctors can diagnose and treat a much broader range of medical conditions — around 1,, from the simple to the complex — than most telehealth companies that may focus on just a few dozen conditions. Because Sherpaa doctors act as your permanent primary care physicians, not just a temporary provider you see for a single problem, you can enjoy consistently convenient care that includes immediate responses to your medical issues within minutes at any time of day or night. Once your Episode of Care begins, your doctors will follow up with you through messages and phone calls.
It typically takes only 20 minutes or less to get a response from a message to a Sherpaa doctor about a new Episode of Care, no matter what time of day or night you send the message. You develop familiarity with your team of dedicated doctors, all of whom work full-time for Sherpaa. These doctors have the time to be more dedicated to your care compared to a physician who works elsewhere full-time and is moonlighting with a telehealth service for some extra cash.
Sherpaa doctors can order and interpret bloodwork and medical imaging tests and share the results with you via your smartphone app.
Simply send your first message about your health issue to your team of doctors, and you will get a reply as soon as possible. Cons: One factor that sets Sherpaa apart from other subscription membership services on the list is that the service offers tiers of membership. If you want more benefits beyond what the Basic package provides, you will pay more. Insurance does not cover the cost of a Sherpaa membership, though it may cover the cost of your laboratory and diagnostic testing or count those costs toward your deductible.
You may also have the option of paying for your membership with pre-tax dollars though a flexible spending account FSA or health savings account HSA. Because Sherpaa care typically takes place through written messaging and the occasional phone call, the service might be disappointing to patients who expect or prefer an exam via video chat. You also do not get to choose your doctors, but instead are assigned to a team of five to seven doctors. LiveHealth Online LiveHealth Online is the most affordable online doctor service to land a spot on our list.
There are no membership fees or subscription fees, and you only pay for the medical services you use. Even among online doctor visits, LiveHealth Online is especially affordable. LiveHealth Online accepts a number of major insurance plans, so the actual cost of your care could be even less. The on demand model of care means that you can see a doctor for a general medical appointment right away, usually within 10 minutes, at any time of day or night. Psychology appointments are not available on demand, but you can usually get your first appointment within four days of signing up for LiveHealth Online.
Spanish-speaking doctors are available from 7 a. Patients have the option of using the LiveHealth Online app on their smartphone or tablet or accessing the service through a desktop computer.
Your Medical Records
You can choose your own doctor based on information such as their specialty, years of experience and medical school. The service stores your data from past video exams and allows you to choose whether to share part or all of your medical record with your doctor when you need care on a future occasion.
Cons: Appointments with LiveHealth Online doctors generally last just 10 to 15 minutes. You can request a sick note for work or school, but you must do so during your brief appointment and then download it from a desktop computer. If you forget to ask for your note during the visit, you can only request a note by calling the customer support line. For patients who have a busy schedule, the on demand only model of care might not be quite as convenient as an online medical service that allows a choice of on demand care or appointment scheduling.
PlushCare PlushCare offers fee-for-service video chat exams with physicians across the United States.
The service requires no monthly or annual subscription charges, so you only pay for the care you use. The per-visit flat rate includes everything except your prescription costs, so there are no hidden or recurring fees.
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The price you see is the price you pay. PlushCare offers a moneyback guarantee and does not charge your credit card until after the visit is complete. PlushCare supports your existing relationships with your PCP and specialist providers, filling in the gaps when you need care outside of regular office hours. Most PlushCare appointments are video consultations with doctors, but in states that allow this option, patients may have the opportunity to choose a phone consultation, as well.
You can use either a smartphone app or a desktop computer that has a webcam to hold a video exam with a doctor. Patients have some degree of choice when it comes to selecting a doctor, since they can view physician information as well as appointment days and timeslots. Patients who need to stay home for a few days to recover from their illness can request simple medical forms such as work and school excuse notes for as long as three consecutive days. The service is integrated with major clinical laboratory networks Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp. Your PlushCare doctor will send the referral for laboratory testing electronically, receive the results electronically and immediately reach out to you to follow up on your test results.
In general, PlushCare appointments last only 10 to 15 minutes The appointment-only model means that you may have to wait longer to see a doctor though PlushCare than you would for an online doctor visit through a service that offers on demand care. DoctorOnDemand DoctorOnDemand is offers short video consultations 24 hours a day with doctors who can treat colds, the flu and other general medical conditions.
Pros and Cons Pros: Creating an account is free, regardless of whether or not you have health insurance or a participating employer. There are no subscription or membership fees. You only pay when you use the service. DoctorOnDemand provides clear pricing information for patients with no insurance or whose insurance is not accepted. Patients who create an account can check their insurance coverage and find out price before seeing a doctor but after creating an account for free Patients can use coupon codes to save money on their medical care through DoctorOnDemand.
In addition to general medical services, DoctorOnDemand also offers therapy and psychiatry services.
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A physician at DoctorOnDemand is qualified to write prescriptions, though with limitations, and to order laboratory tests. If you need a sick note for work or school, DoctorOnDemand can provide you with one. Patients who have children under 18 can add those children to their account and get medical care for them without needing to create a separate account. If a slow connection or other technical issues prevent you from having an effective video call, you can switch to an audio only call with your doctor. If you need more time, you have to pay an additional fee to extend the call.
Patients only get the option to choose their physician if they want to schedule an appointment in the future. All consultations are video calls unless you need to switch to an audio only call due to a slow connection or other technical difficulties. The service includes specific technical requirements. Patients need to download the DoctorOnDemand app to use the service on their smartphone.
If you want to use a desktop computer, you need a webcam and to use a specific browser Google Chrome and web app. You can share visit notes and lab results with your physician if you choose, but the burden is on you to be proactive about sending the records to your primary care office yourself. While general medical services are offered on demand, psychiatry and psychology are not. You must make an appointment, though this does allow you to choose your provider. Pros and Cons Pros: The option to see a therapist without leaving home, even through messaging or chat, overcomes many of the obstacles that prevent patients from getting the care they need for mental health issues.
The messaging communication option, which takes place in a secure and private virtual room, is open 24 hours a day. Depending on which minute you check the news, Congress may or may not be renewing the debate on killing the Affordable Care Act or passively letting it die while activists renew their calls for universal coverage. Here in the United States, we don't offer affordable care to everyone as some other places do. As an added bonus, our health care costs much more than it does almost anywhere else.
Great, right? You might not even know whether you have health insurance, what it covers, or what that means. That is all completely understandable, since these things can be so confusing. The budget for promoting registration for the ACA has been drastically cut by the Trump administration, but you can still register between November 1 and December 15, , by going to Healthcare. Still, you can have health insurance in the U.
If you have a plan that seems like it pays for nothing, what you most likely have is a high-deductible plan. These are cheaper, but you pay for everything until you reach a set amount, which can be a few thousand dollars per year or much higher. There are also plenty of ways to be in health insurance limbo: Maybe you just quit a job, just started a job, are unemployed, are in a protracted argument with your job about whether you actually have benefits, are too poor to afford a plan, and so on.
If political wrangling has strangled ACA options in your state, you might be able to find a plan through a high-risk pool or through a state-run program. The Patient Advocate Foundation is a good starting place for those resources. If you are getting by on a small paycheck, it can be tempting to forego insurance, especially if the insurance seems crappy or is only high-deductible. But take it from someone who spent a few years in her 20s paying a quarter of her gross income on medical debt for a blip that started with a simple UTI: Your future self will thank you.
During my own, long bout without insurance, I quickly learned that most doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and just about everyone else in the medical field actually wants to provide health care. They are not judging you. In fact, many will be glad to help you apply to programs that get part of your meds or care covered. Instead, try these things:. Know the truth about the emergency room. You should of course go to the ER in a true emergency, but know it's not a cost-free medical care option for nonemergencies.
Urgent care is your friend. If you have an ongoing but nonemergency health concern, look to see if there is a federally funded community clinic in your area.