Telehealth – Is Now the Time?

Joel RayI wish every question in health care had such an easy answer. Consider this: An analyst with the market research firm IHS predicts the United States telehealth market will grow from $240 million today to $1.9 billion in 2018, an annual growth rate of 56%. There will never be a better time to get started if you haven’t already.

How can we compete with health plans like Aetna and United Health Care that are offering a telehealth product with their major medical plans?

I was asked this question the other day and responded by using Walmart coming into a new town as an example. A merchant can close up shop thinking it’s useless to try and compete with Walmart. Or, he can open up shop across the street knowing the increase in traffic will be good for business. While he might not be able to compete on price, he most assuredly can compete on service and convenience.

In other words, embrace the fact the “big boys” are getting into telehealth because it will expand the marketplace for all of us. The major health plans are promoting a $20 – $40 consult fee (or more) while a $0 consult fee will resonate with employees, promote utilization, and result in a healthier population.

High Deductibles And Provider Access

A recent survey conducted by The Kaiser Family Foundation found 37% of the respondents who purchased a health plan from the state or federal exchanges didn’t know the definition of a “deductible.” I’d like to be a fly on the wall when these people file a claim for the first time!

Additionally, provider access isn’t something you hear about much in the press, but you may soon since it’s becoming a major issue with health care companies.  My brother recently purchased a Blue Cross plan on the federal exchange (Texas hasn’t implemented a state exchange) and was told by the first five providers he called they weren’t taking new patients. While this is troubling for a number of reasons, it’s apparent telehealth is only going to become more important in the delivery of primary health care as more people buy health insurance on exchanges and discover fewer providers are available to treat them.

The Bottom Line

Give us 30 minutes and we will provide the talk track and tools to offer your customers and their employees a complete solution to complement any major medical plan including telehealth, health advocacy programs and wellness programs. Until next time…

Respectfully,

Joel Ray

CEO

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