There’s nothing worse than being sick enough to go to the doctor when severe weather is affecting your area. It’s bad enough to drive while dealing with the flu – throw a snowstorm into the mix and you’re really cooking up a plate of disaster. Thankfully, technology is here to help overcome this obstacle… with some caveats, of course!
More and more employers and insurance companies are offering a telemedicine solution. Even Medicare has jumped into the game with some of their Part B coverage.
In a nutshell, telemedicine allows a patient to participate in a real-time video conference with a doctor or nurse. For common sicknesses, such as colds and other mild illnesses, the doctor can speak with the patient and then prescribe medication as necessary. You will still have to brave the weather to pick up your prescription, unfortunately.
This saves a patient the trip to a doctor’s office, which not only makes life easier in bad weather, but also keeps the patient from spreading germs or picking up new ones in the waiting room.
If you don’t have a computer equipped with a webcam, then don’t fret. Most telemedicine groups offer a smartphone app that makes it even easier. Especially in bad weather situations where you may lose power or internet access – your phone will stay connected and able to contact a doctor (as long as you have enough battery, of course!)
Insurance and Medicare
Some insurance plans will cover telemedicine, but some will not. It’s up to you to do the research to find out what your options are.
Medicare patients have more restrictions on whether telemedicine is covered. They have to meet a geographical requirement such as living in a rural county. Unfortunately, bad weather isn’t enough for Medicare to cover telemedicine, but lawmakers are trying to expand the program. Medicare patients also must be enrolled in Part B to participate in telemedicine.
The Future is Telemedicine
As technology evolves and becomes more ubiquitous, telemedicine will continue to grow. Many doctors would prefer to keep patients with simple, treatable illnesses out of the waiting room. It’s a win-win for patients and doctors alike!