Cheaper, more convenient medical care may be within your grasp — assuming, that is, you're reading this on a smartphone.
A growing roster of telehealth apps and Web services are cutting out the hassles of limited office hours and long appointment waits, not to mention the need to drag yourself out of bed when you're under the weather. Patients can usually get feedback from the doctor within minutes, and often for the same price or less than an in-person doctor's office or urgent-care clinic visit.
The list of concerns a virtual visit might address is long and varied. Board-certified physicians at Lemonaid Health, for example, can help with ailments including acid reflux, flu and erectile dysfunction; top conditions treated via Doctor on Demand include urinary tract infections, skin rashes and pinkeye. Looking for a mental health professional? TalkSpace, Breakthrough and Doctor on Demand all offer services.
"Technology is really providing greater access," said Andrew Scholnick, a senior legislative representative on AARP's Federal Health & Family team. Telehealth services aren't just a boon for the busy. They can also be valuable for older adults who might have difficulty getting to the doctor's office, as well are caregivers in search of guidance, he said.
The other big advantage: cost.
In 2015, the average copay among workers covered by health insurance was $24 for a primary care office visit and $37 for a specialty office visit, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Uninsured patients face higher out-of-pocket costs. At both Walgreens and CVS, for example, exams for minor illnesses, injuries and skin conditions start at $89.