Telehealth Cost in 2022

Telehealth Cost

Breaking Down Telehealth Cost

As the number of telehealth providers continues to grow, more users will have access to healthcare. Whether you need to see a specialist or run some basic tests, virtual treatment is here to help. And if client retention is anything to go off of, patients prefer remote care to walk-in appointments. So, the only issue keeping new users away from virtual treatment is telehealth cost. 

From a distance, telehealth sounds like an unreal promise. High-quality healthcare offered from the comfort of your own home seems too good to be true. But even as studies show remote providers’ effectiveness [1], patients worry the cost of entry could be too high. And in truth, predicting telehealth’s price is difficult without a helping hand. 

Telehealth cost comes down to many different factors. So, to help explain the price of care, Beam is here to break down the ins and outs of virtual treatment. Now that service is available for everyone, regardless of where they live, it would be a shame to let money stand in the way. 

Baseline Telehealth Cost

Before outlining the factors that go into telehealth’s price, we need to set a baseline. In general, medical costs vary depending on the quality or kind of service offered. But across specializations and types of care, some trends become clear to see. And they all point to virtual treatment’s affordability. 

Because telehealth has been intensely studied, making a basic comparison isn’t difficult. A study from Health Affairs found that the average cost of a telehealth visit is about $79 [1]. By comparison, the average price of a walk-in appointment comes out to $146. Across a full range of medical issues prompting a clinic visit, the telehealth cost is half as much as in-person care. 

Like all averages, these findings have their exceptions. On top of that, price fluctuations over the years will affect this ratio. But even with this in mind, telehealth is a more affordable alternative to conventional treatment. And even if the price goes up over the next decade, access to more healthcare options is always a good thing.

What Goes Into Your Price Tag

Studies on telehealth help paint a picture of its cost, but there’s still more to it. Outside of a clinic’s invoice, there are extra charges attached to walk-in care. So, by getting rid of these expenses, virtual services can make consultations affordable. 

Traditional medical care adds costs related to travel and scheduling. For example, clients have to pay for transportation to their walk-in care. Additionally, this can mean taking time off work or paying for childcare that further inflates the cost. In short, telehealth cuts a lot of these additional expenses from your total bill. 

Providers can drop the price of care by cutting costs, too. Thanks to remote treatments, clinics don’t have to pay rent on offices or full clinic spaces. Simplified workflows on telehealth platforms also cut administrative work. While not all clinics will lower costs as a result, the ones that do are accessible from anywhere in the country. 

Insurance Reduces Telehealth Cost

Like with walk-in care, your telehealth cost will decrease with insurance coverage. In the past few years, insurance companies and lawmakers expanded coverage for virtual care. Services may even qualify for Medicare and Medicaid coverage, depending on your location and the treatments used. 

Over 40 states require private insurance providers to reimburse telehealth services [2]. On top of that, most insurance policies cover at least some form of virtual care. While some states tack on more requirements, some clinics are willing to make small operational changes to see their patients. So, the majority of the time, patients can charge visits as if they were in-person care. Pair that with lower bills, and this is the most inexpensive treatment around.

Other Factors to Consider

Regardless of insurance or clinic deals, there are general rules that point to treatment cost. Chief among them: more complex procedures come at a higher price tag. While this pricing is intuitive to providers, telehealth clients might miss some of the nuances. In particular, how do they differentiate a simple session from a complicated one?

Time is the first factor you should take into account. If you can diagnose the issue and decide on treatment during one session, you should expect a lower price. But more than one session of testing and treatment means a higher cost. That said, clear communication and proper use of home telemedicine kits can cut down on consult time.

The amount of data reviewed is also important [3]. Consultations that involve x-rays, blood tests, and medical reports drive prices up. This is true with virtual care and walk-in appointments. The more investigation a practice needs to make a diagnosis, the more a patient has to pay. 

Finally, treatments have a telehealth cost in and of themselves. Providers might recommend a Tylenol dosage for problems like stress-induced headaches and colds. But for more serious conditions, patients may need prescriptions that cost more. While telehealth makes getting to your doctor less expensive, you can’t cut corners on treatment. 

No one factor can determine telehealth cost and whether or not it’s affordable. But because we believe that everyone deserves access to healthcare, Beam is here to help. That’s why we offer one free year of our all-in-one all in once service to qualifying clinics. Click here to learn more. 

Sources:

[1] https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1130

[2]https://telehealth.hhs.gov/providers/billing-and-reimbursement/private-insurance-coverage-for-telehealth/

[3] https://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/news/20211005/telehealth-costs-a-surprise

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