Telemedicine was around before COVID-19, but the pandemic accelerated the demand for at-home doctor’s visits. Given the benefits — you can talk to a health care provider from the comfort of your home, you don’t need to sit in a waiting room where you might pick up another virus, and you might not even have to put on pants — the lasting popularity of telemedicine makes sense.
While it doesn’t replace the need for in-person care (especially urgent or emergency care for life-threatening situations), telemedicine has made getting basic, routine health care more accessible, and in some cases, more affordable.
To simplify your search the next time you’re looking for a computer-based discussion with a health care professional, we did the research and rounded up some of the best telemedicine services out there this year.
Amell offers a wide portfolio of treatment specialties, including online psychiatry, urgent care, pediatrics and even second opinions. Amwell’s Second Opinion option, while expensive at a price of $1,850 per consultation, sources specialists with the Cleveland Clinic and might be valuable for people who just got a serious diagnosis and want a second opinion about the treatment course they’ve been recommended, or those who’ve struggled to find relief from a chronic condition and want a second pair of eyes on test images and more.
Without insurance, the baseline cost for an urgent care or pediatric visit through Amwell is $79. For a psychiatrist assessment, the first visit is $279. The company works with a variety of insurance providers.
Sesame on Meta
Sesame offers straightforward health care for a variety of concerns, including primary care, sexual health, mental health and health care for children at a relatively cheap price. You can easily search to find a provider’s availability, and see what price each doctor charges for an online appointment so you’re not surprised by a hidden fee.
If you do have health insurance, Sesame says that you’ll likely be able to find care that’s less than what you’d pay for a deductible, and that its services are out-of-network for appointments. But depending on your insurance company, you may be reimbursed. Appointments start at $19. With the Sesame Plus membership at $11 per month, you get more perks, including a free blood or lab test.
Dr. B stands apart from other telehealth services because it provides care to patients even if they can’t pay the flat consultation fee of $15. The company offers care for common health conditions that may require a simple prescription, such as the flu or COVID-19, urinary tract infections, some sexual health conditions and dermatology consultations for hair loss, eczema and more.
To see if you qualify for no-pay service, you’ll need to answer some questions about your income and household. As part of Dr. B’s no-pay model, you can’t use your insurance to pay the $15 consultation fee. However, you may use your insurance for whatever medicine is prescribed. (People who qualify for the no-pay service may still be responsible for the price of their prescriptions. To get additional payment support, Dr. B has a list of resources in its FAQ.)
Teladoc can diagnose and treat just about any general medical condition you can think of, and offers specialist services for mental health, dermatology, sexual health and more. As Verywell Mind reports, Teladoc is a leader in online mental health services, which includes couples therapy.
Unlike some other services, Teladoc doesn’t put a time cap on General Medical visits — you can talk to your doc as long as you like, a refreshing feeling in an industry that typically tries to cycle patients in and out as fast as possible. It even has an “Expert Medical Opinion” service if you want a second opinion on a treatment plan or have more specific concerns.
The cost of a Teladoc visit varies, depending on your plan and insurance, as well as which services you use. Teladoc says you could pay as low as $0, but a general medical visit costs $75 without insurance. Learn more on Teladoc’s FAQ page.
Dr On Demand
Doctor On Demand breaks its services down into five main categories: urgent care, mental health, chronic care, skin care and preventive. The preventive health category sets Doctor On Demand apart from other telehealth services with lab screenings and more proactive health care. Prices start at $79 without insurance.
This isn’t your traditional telemedicine service, but we’re including it for the innovative at heart. Tyto is an at-home medical exam kit that allows you to check for common conditions by sending high-quality video and audio to a doctor on the other end of the app. Your doctor hears your heart and lungs and sees your ears, throat and skin to diagnose conditions like ear infections, cold, flu, allergies and rashes. The kit is a one-time purchase of $300, and the price of a visit starts at $59 before insurance.
PlushCare advertises virtual primary care and mental health treatment. The process for making an appointment is fairly simple: tell the company whether you’re paying with insurance, select your state and then scroll through a list of doctors with their various appointment times.
PlushCare is a subscription service that costs $99 per year or $15 per month. Without insurance, a first visit is $129; subsequent ones are $69.
If you want to find out more about your symptoms, but not necessarily talk to a doctor (although you have the option to), try K Health. This app aggregates data from millions of users and shows you how doctors have previously treated patients with symptoms similar to yours. This can help in situations when you’re not quite sure what to do, for instance, if you don’t know whether you have a cold or are experiencing allergies. It also answers questions parents may have about their child’s symptoms.
If you do want to speak to a doctor, K Health advertises a $39 one-time visit fee. There are also monthly membership fees of $29 or $49, depending on the kind of access you want to K Health’s different platforms.
With One Medical, you can book appointments, renew prescriptions, access medical records and get health reminders all within the One Medical app. If you’re not feeling an in-person visit, you can simply message your doctor or have a FaceTime-esque appointment through its video chat software. One Medical has a yearly membership cost of $199, and the copay you’ll be responsible for each visit depends on your insurance and your reason for the visit. The company also has a member financial assistance program for those who are eligible.
One Medical has locations in major cities across the US.
At this “doctor’s office of the future,” Forward Health a very thorough baseline visit followed by unlimited in-person visits and online chats with your provider. A membership at Forward costs $149 per month with no copays, and you don’t need insurance to be a member, but it’s highly recommended just in case you have an emergency or you need to see a specialist. Forward has locations in some major cities across the US.
Telehealth services may offer their own 24/7 care numbers, as do most insurance companies. You can find your insurance company’s hotline by searching “[insurance company] nurse hotline” on the web. Usually, all you need to do is put in your geographic location and plan type, and then you can call.
But if you’re uninsured, you may be wondering where to turn if you just need a quick question answered over the phone. Free help line options for the uninsured are limited, but you can always find and call your local health department for directions on where to find affordable preventative care, like vaccines.
You can also visit the National Institutes of Health hotline page to find phone numbers for specific health conditions, including allergies, heart health, mental health and more.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.