There’s more than one way to pay for telemedicine.

A growing number of employers are working with a telemedicine vendor to deliver urgent primary care to employees and family members covered by their health plan.

Many employers assume this can only be done by paying a per-employee, per-month fee. But other pricing models have emerged for employers and consumers alike.

Pricing Models

The cost of telemedicine services depends on the vendor and their services, according to an article published in  Modern Healthcare magazine.

telemedicine on mobile

For example,  Doctor on Demand is paid only when patients use its services. Doctor on Demand was started to offer services directly to consumers, but now also works with employers and health plans to offer care. Consumers can directly access Doctor on Demand for $40 per visit.

Teladoc takes a different approach, charging a per-member, per-month fee to participating employers and health plans. The patient’s cost for a telehealth visit depends on benefit plan design. At this time, Teladoc is not available directly to consumers.

American Well  combines those two approaches. Employer clients can offer care via American Well without a per-member, per-month fee, but a fee may be charged if the employer wants to customize the product or have a lower co-pay for employees who use the service. American Well markets itself directly to consumers as Amwell and charges $49 for an urgent care visit.

Marketing offers can bring the price down, at least for first-time users. Both Doctor on Demand and Amwell periodically offer specials that give consumers their first visit free.

There are also variations on these pricing models, based on how the service is delivered, who provides care and how the service is structured. For example, VirtuWell charges $45 per visit for care
provided by nurse practitioners.

Weighing Return on Investment

healthcare costs

Return on investment (ROI) for telemedicine typically requires diverting consumers from other, more expensive kinds of care. Telemedicine may replace routine office visits, urgent care center visits for minor ailments or emergency room care.

Teladoc says it achieves an average savings of $673 per claim when a telemedicine visit for minor ailments is compared to an in-person visit.

But achieving those savings requires both the right telemedicine model for your workforce and an effective communication strategy that reaches your workforce in a meaningful way. At a recent benefits roundtable sponsored by The Alliance, some employers complained that their telemedicine program only attracted a handful of repeat users, while others were satisfied by telemedicine savings.

When picking the right program for your organization, here are some questions to consider:

  • What’s the best way to offer telemedicine to your workforce? You can offer access by telephone, email, smartphone app or a kiosk in the worksite.
  • Which approach best meshes with your other health benefits? For example, companies that have an onsite clinic at some locations sometimes choose to offer telemedicine at other worksites where an onsite clinic isn’t feasible due to employee numbers, space or other considerations.
  • What services are required by your employees? Most employers opt for primary care services, but some telemedicine providers also offer access to dermatology and behavioral medicine,
    for example.
  • Do you need to make telemedicine available in your workplace? If so, you might want to explore ways to provide privacy for employees and create effective policies for its use.
  • How will you market telemedicine services to employees and family members who are on your health plan? You must share information about the program effectively to persuade workers to use it.

So Which Model is Best?

You may be asking yourself, “So which telemedicine model is most likely to deliver ROI for my organization?”

Finding the right answer depends on matching the needs of your organization and your workforce to the right telemedicine vendor.

 

More Information

Mike Roche

Mike Roche

Member Services Manager at The Alliance
Mike Roche joined The Alliance as member services manager in 2015. He is responsible for working with Alliance employers on health benefit strategies; sharing data-based information to help members manage their health care spend; and serving as a voice of member employers.

Mike has a strong background in health benefits and self-funding. He previously served as a regional sales advisor for Digital Benefits Advisors in Madison, Wis., where he managed the health benefits for more than 160 credit union clients across 14 states. Prior to that position, Mike worked at CUNA Mutual Group in their employee benefits division for almost 10 years as an employee benefits sales specialist.

Mike has a bachelor’s degree with a double major in marketing and business administration and is licensed in both health and life insurance in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Montana.

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