Friday, October 11, 2013

The Doctor will speak with you now

In light of the effect that the ObamaTax is having (and has already had) on physician availability, I've been taking a look at some interesting sales opportunities being pitched at agents (and others).

The buzzword seems to be "telemedicine" or "telehealth," and the idea is that you buy a subscription to a service that promises you near-instant access to a doctor (or, perhaps, some other health care professional) that can help you determine the cause of the problem, and even issue a prescription if needed.

I've seen two of these so far (and I'm sure there are others); one offered a webinar, and our own Kelley Beloff has graciously consented to fall on her sword participate in one for us. I expect that we'll see her post on this soon. In the meantime, I thought readers might be interested in some broad descriptions of this product:

■ One fee per family per month. At least one of these products charges a single fee, regardless of how many people are "covered" [ed: the "scare quotes" are there because this isn't really "insurance"].

■ No co-pays. This is sort of a virtual "boutique" type model, where one fee covers all services. The benefit, of course, would be that one avoids being nickel-and-dimed for repeat calls.

■ The Doc is always in. This seems sort of obvious: what added value is there in this type of plan if the doc is available only during "business hours?" Come to think of it, this may be a good supplement for folks stuck with a new ObamaTax-compliant plan's "skinny" network.

Of course, it'd be nice to know how much these things cost. While these will vary from vendor to vendor, the price points seem to be $10, $15 and $25 per month, depending on the different services offered. That could add up to $300 a year to your health care costs, but if it guarantees access to actual care, perhaps that's a worthwhile expense.

Something to consider.

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