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Examining 3 Popular Options for Nontraditional Medical Care

The following is adapted from Healthcare is Making Me Sick: Learn the Rules to Regain Control and Fight for Your Healthcare.

Not everyone approaches healthcare the same way. Cost of care, higher out-of-pocket costs, technology, and transparency are all causing the medical field to evolve.

The evolution is producing nontraditional provider options. So, instead of visiting a traditional primary care provider, millions of people are opting to pursue a different path when it comes to the care they receive. Let’s look at three of the most popular options.

#1: Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers medical consultations over the phone, Skype, or FaceTime, and it’s a piece of the healthcare industry that is constantly growing. In fact, the global telehealth market is projected to reach 12.1 billion by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 23 percent between 2018 and 2023.

With fewer doctors able to give significant time to patients, telemedicine can serve as the front line of medicine. In addition, rural areas yearn for good medical care, so teledoctors are a great way to serve people who can’t easily get into a doctor.

One of the advancements in services that is propelling telemedicine is the ability to prescribe medicine through their service. Some services can refer to specialists and facilitate the scheduling of the specialist’s appointment.

Another plus: teledoctor visits are usually discounted compared to traditional in-office visits. If a doctor visit costs $100 on your plan, a telemedicine “visit” might only be $49. If your carrier doesn’t offer a telemedicine service, you can buy it directly from some hospitals such as the Cleveland Clinic and Premier Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, or from Teladoc. You don’t even have to be in their area to use the service.

In addition, Walgreens recently cut a deal with New York Presbyterian to provide telemedicine in the greater New York area. There’s a movement to give people quality, non-emergency healthcare through flexible, timesaving access to doctors.

Telemedicine is the private market responding to the market needs. Using technology, we are reinstating the doctor “house calls.” It’s worth considering twenty-four-hour care in your home with qualified practitioners at a fraction of the cost!

#2: Clinics

What do Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kroger, Target, Walgreens, and CVS all have in common?

They all offer health clinics within their select stores.

More and more, traditional retailers are bringing their retail expertise to medicine to provide easier-access, lower-cost alternatives to healthcare.

The clinics provide services similar to a primary care doctor and are staffed by registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and physician assistants (PAs). Services include treating minor illnesses; screening for and monitoring minor injuries, handling skin conditions, conducting wellness exams and physicals, performing women’s services, and giving vaccinations and injections. They diagnose, treat, and prescribe medicines at a lower cost. Fees range from $49–$99 and are accepted by most insurance carriers. Check on their websites for locations that have a clinic and for insurance carriers that accept their services.

Here’s a tip: if prescribed medicine at one of the pharmacy companies’ clinics, make sure you are getting the best price on the prescription before filling it.

#3: Concierge Services

Most primary care practices are inundated with patients, ranging from 2,000 to 3,000 per physician. They typically see twenty to twenty-four patients a day—or about eight minutes with each patient (after you take into account paperwork, lunch, and breaks).

Does eight minutes seem like enough time to you? No, it doesn’t, and many physicians don’t think so either. As a result, they have been morphing their practices into concierge service providers; in fact, there were over 12,000 in 2014.

A concierge practice charges an annual retainer, generally $1,500 per year, waives your insurance copay or deductible for office visits, and submits claims for services to your carrier. Most concierge practices are primary care or general internist doctors.

They limit their practice to 400–600 patients per year, allowing them to extend their time with each patient. You may be wondering why you would want to spend an additional $1,500 per year on top of your insurance to see your doctor?

The answer is simple: enhanced service and access. Concierge practices offer immediate access to their doctors via cell phone, email, and same-day appointments.

Visits are, on average, thirty minutes, granting time to cover all issues. Additional attention is provided with referrals to specialists or hospitals, and some services offer home or hospital visits as well as access to top specialists. In short, they’re the clinical advocates they once were, but at an additional cost. Most practices are located in or near large cities and on the coasts. Two national practices are MDVIP and Pinnacle.

Nontraditional Care is Worth Consideration

Depending on your insurance plan, the care options available to you, and your medical needs, one of these three nontraditional options might work for you.

For more advice on nontraditional care options, you can find Healthcare is Making Me Sick on Amazon.

Scott Heiser has more than twenty years’ experience as a consultant for clients in the insurance and healthcare system. Scott was a partner and owner of a commercial insurance brokerage, in which he led and developed an employee benefit practice that managed more than half a billion dollars in health benefits. Scott is a strategic innovator who knows the ins and outs of what can feel like the overwhelming world of healthcare and insurance. Today, he is dedicated to sharing his knowledge to help educate and empower his readers. His goal is to improve your health outcomes while lowering your costs. To get started, visit www.UncoveredHC.com. 

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