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Telemedicine in the Affordable Health Care Act Explained

Telemedicine

Telemedicine is an important component of the robust and technology driven Affordable Health Care system (Obama care) and provides avenues for reducing costs in the new healthcare structure, because it offers options in how we access healthcare.

The Affordable Care Act is the most comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s health care system in decades and it’s implementation and sign-ups will all be processed through marketplace exchanges.

Wealth they say, is money and information is power. For entrepreneurs like us, who will most likely be responsible for our own health insurance, knowing how telemedicine can supplement our health plans, means we can take full advantage of the program within our health insurance plans.

If it is not offered, telemedicine supplementary plans are available in the marketplace for as low as $29.99 for the entire family as a smart way to cut your healthcare costs, since the new law makes it mandatory for everyone to have health insurance.

What is the Meaning of Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical health care without a traditional face-to face consultation. It helps eliminate distance barriers and can improve access to supplementary medical services for people with:

  • Basic or No Insurance
  • High Deductible (HDHP) Insurance
  • Traditional Insurance

Telemedicine

Tele-health Vs Telemedicine

‘Tele-health’ is an older, broader term for services such as health education and is not limited to clinical services, while ‘Telemedicine’ narrowly focuses on the actual curative aspect between the patient and healthcare professional. Examples of Tele-health are health professionals discussing a case over the telephone or conducting robotic surgery between facilities at different ends of the world.
TeleHealth  has a broader scope than telemedicine and is sometimes called e-health, e-medicine, or telemedicine. Health care professional use tools like e-mails, e-visits, e-prescribing, after-hours care, e-reminders, health assessments, self-management tools, health coaching etc.

The State of the Market

The Obama Care Health Insurance Exchange (HIX) opens on Oct 1st, 2013. and goes into operation on Jan 1st, 2014. The Obama Care exchanges, are State, Federal or joint-run online marketplaces for health insurance. Americans can use their State’s “Affordable” Insurance Exchange marketplace to get coverage from competing private health care providers.

STEPS TO SIGN-UP FOR HEALTHCARE PLANS

  • Participants enter personal information into the ACA website @ www.healthcare.gov.
  • Learn their eligibility for subsidies based on income, state-determined criteria or employer-based options.
  • Use a price calculator to shop, compare and choose a best benefit health plan.

“The best thing we could do is get rid of the term – telemedicine,” says Jay Sanders, president and CEO of the Global Telemedicine Group. “When we started using CAT scans we didn’t call it ‘CAT-scan medicine,’ and when ultrasounds came in we didn’t call it ‘ultrasound medicine.’ It’s medicine, period.”

Projections for the growth of the telemedicine market are optimistic due to the increasing demand for savings and remote medical care. It’s been projected that nearly three-quarters of U.S. consumers say they would supplement their mandatory healthcare plans with telemedicine.

Several major health companies have programs like TelaDoc in Aetna, KP-OnCall in Kaiser etc, trying to set up footholds in a market that is widely expected to grow rapidly. All participants have to do is research for telemedicine benefits through their health insurance plans or sign up for independent programs like Enhanced MD

Common symptoms often treated through Telemedicine.

Respiratory Infections, Cold/Flu Symptoms, Urinary Tract Infections, Sore Throats, Headaches/Migraines, Sinusitis, Allergies, Insect bites, Certain Rashes, Sprains/Strains, Arthritic Pain, Stomach Aches/Diarrhea, Gastroenteritis, Minor Burns and many non-emergency medical conditions

Telemedicine

Doctors treat most everyday health needs by phone. A study by the American Medical Association (AMA) shows that 4 out of 5 visits to a primary care doctor could have been treated over the phone instead. After each consultation, you will receive a clinical report which you can email to your primary care physician.

Registered Nurses (RNs) manage triage calls and act as health coaches. For some specific symptoms, they give guidance for the most appropriate care, and over 32% of the time will offer self-care options so you avoid a visit to the doctor, ER or Urgent Care facility entirely.

Benefits of Telemedicine

  • A supplement to an existing health plan to cut/manage costs of co-pays, deductibles or ER visit charges.
  • Avoid contagious illness associated with crowded ER’s and doctor’s offices or Urgent Care clinics
  • Avoid long waits often associated with hospitals and offices. The average wait time is over 6 hours
  • Most plans include a prescription drug savings program
  • Charges 75% less than your co-pay and saves up to $150 or more per use
  • Use your HSA or HRA to promote pre-tax spending, saving even more!
  • Have portals for alternative medicine with practitioners in Massage Therapy, Acupuncture and Naturopathy as emotional health is always a pre-cursor to physical ailments and fosters a health mind, body and spirit.

Telemedicine

By 2014, the law mandates that all non-exempt Americans have health insurance or face a tax penalty and since Obama care has far-reaching advantages such as prohibiting insurance companies from dropping your coverage if you get sick or discrimination against anyone with a pre-existing condition and extending children’s eligibility on parent’s plans, it will probably survive the attempts to repel the law.

Considering the savings, I think it’s a smart move to check out this supplementary telemedicine portal or research the several programs available nationwide.

Author: A Danesi

A. Danesi is a writer, a business and marketing consultant with an MBA in Financial Management. “I love people, writing & crunching numbers…in that order – Please Like, Connect, Comment and Share. Thanks for hanging out!”

Categories: Finances & Money, Reviews

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