This option will now allow for patients to schedule a video consultation with prescribing physicians via a mobile device or desktop for a variety of conditions including bronchitis, urinary tract infections, and the flu, among others. UHC currently covers video consultations for self-funded employer customers, but will cover employer-sponsored and individual plan participants beginning in 2016. Patients will still responsible for copayment of these visits depending on the specifics of their plans.
Expanded use of telemedicine allows payers to improve patient access to care, recognize cost savings, and bolster patient engagement. In addition, this new initiative will:
- Provide a convenient and low-cost option to reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency department (ED) and to urgent care clinics during after-hours;
- Allow patients to get access for care in timely manner without going to the ED or an urgent care clinic for “low-hanging fruit” conditions like those mentioned above; and
- Improve patient engagement through the use of mobile devices and computers, which appeal to younger demographics. This type of technology also empowers patients to take control in a new way versus the traditional physician visit with their primary care provider, which increasingly involves waiting days or weeks for an appointment.