Health Care Solution During the Pandemic: Low-Cost Telehealth Benefits for Current and Laid-Off Employees
April 16, 2020 | Thomas C. Selleck
“It’s never been more important to be able to reach your doctor or therapist. With telehealth services, we can accomplish both goals—increasing access to care, while also doing our part to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19.” – U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, 4-9-20
16 million in U.S. lose jobs in last 3 weeks – NYTimes.com
Compounding the loss of income, laid-off workers also lose their health insurance—and that means they also lose their drug plans, so their out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions skyrocket. Furloughed employees are often left without their customary support net of health services.
Employees who are lucky enough to still have a job are confronted by big obstacles to getting safe, accessible health care for themselves or their families. Long delays for getting in to see a doctor, crowded facilities, and high insurance copays or other direct out-of-pocket costs. Plus, no one wants to risk sitting in the waiting room surrounded by sick and potentially contagious people, especially during this pandemic.
Currently, traditional health care delivery is hampered by three factors: social distancing guidelines make even a routine check-up a chore; the fear of infection from other patients adds a fear factor that can stop patients from getting the care they need; and waiting rooms are often overrun with people legitimately concerned about COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms.
“Whether people are concerned about the coronavirus pandemic, a bad cough, a sore throat, an allergic reaction, upset stomach, hypertension, anxiety, depression or other common physical or mental health conditions, in the current environment, it is challenging to find safe and convenient access to a doctor,” explains Paul Tarnoff, director of CapstoneCare Enhanced Telemedicine in Iowa.
Telehealth services appear to offer a solution to these problems by offering access to an MD via phone or computer. But despite the U.S. Government’s endorsement and all the positive publicity about telehealth, many telemedicine programs are seriously flawed due to the per-session fees that average $40 and can range up to $80 per visit. Other telemedicine services are limited to participants in specific insurance plans, and still others are simply an online service of a hospital or clinic, with corresponding out-of-pocket fees.
CapstoneCare Enhanced Telemedicine, an ABI member, has developed a telehealth service with unlimited access to U.S. licensed telehealth MDs and mental health therapists for a flat fee of $14.95 per person or $19.95 for a family, including dependents to age 26. MDs can handle up to 75%-80% of all health conditions via phone, app or computer, and refer patients to local services when needed.
In addition to direct access to an MD 24 hours a day, CapstoneCare provides mental health counseling sessions free as part of its basic plan. The many mental health challenges triggered by the pandemic and its domino effect on individuals and families has resulted in a dramatic increase in behavioral and mental health illnesses. Master’s level therapists are on duty to provide therapy sessions for subscribers both day and night.
“When someone loses their health insurance, they usually lose their drug benefits,” adds Mr. Tarnoff. “One critical area where CapstoneCare can help is in offering prescriptions drug discounts comparable to those offered by insurance plans. Although CapstoneCare is not traditional insurance, it does offer deep discounts to its subscribers on both brand-name and generic prescription drugs.”
In addition to its direct-to-consumer plans, CapstoneCare’s programs are available to businesses and organizations in the form of an “auto-pilot” program with flexible sign-up options, with the barest minimum of administration. For details on how enterprises can cover current full and/or part-time employees, or extend benefits to furloughed workers, please visit CapstoneCare’s website, or contact Mary Ann Hahn of CapstoneCare at 888-488-6431 x2 or MaryAnn@capcaretelehealth.com.
Thomas C. Selleck is director of marketing at CapcareTelehealth.com and CEO at MembershipMarketer.com. Email him at Thomas@membershipmarketer.com.