|To encourage Americans to stay at home during a pandemic, many health insurance providers began covering the copayment for Telehealth appointments. Through virtual meetings, insurance companies hoped this financial incentive would reduce volume and stress on healthcare workers. This decision proved useful. Over the summer, Telehealth appointments skyrocketed more than 13%.|
However, insurance companies intend to reinstate copay charges for Telehealth appointments. Starting October 1, UnitedHealthCare and Anthem began collecting copays for Telehealth appointments. Copayments will be the same as an in-person appointment. Doctors are aware of their patient’s hesitance to Telehealth. Many, such as urologist Dr. Chad Ellimoottil, wear their white coats to all Telehealth appointments.
While there are physical limitations to Telehealth appointments, Doctors wear their coats to assure their patients of professional treatment. They want patients to know that a Telehealth appointment is as necessary as an in-person appointment. With copays, patients will be even more skeptical of Telehealth appointments.
The lack of copays provided a critical financial incentive for patients in need of routine checkups. According to Harvard Medical School, Professor Ateev Mehrotra, in-person doctor’s visits reduced 60% since the beginning of the pandemic.
Many doctors are hopeful that patients who need in-patient care will feel more confident about making in-person doctor’s appointments without a financial incentive. Many patients who desperately needed care feared the doctor’s office during the pandemic.
Furthermore, many patients made appointments for minor injuries of ailments without a copay where they would otherwise not consult a doctor. This put a financial incentive on insurance companies to require copays again.
However, health care professionals worry that copays create another financial burden for patients. With a recession, doctors do not want patients to choose between physical health and further financial distress.
In the event that the patient cannot afford the copay that their insurance companies are charging, telemedicine companies such as Ourdoctor do not require a high copay. Instead, patients only have to pay a one-time visit fee. This is a more affordable method of receiving non- urgent care from a physician that does not require insurance.