What is Telemedicine?

4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Telemedicine

Telemedicine is an emerging service in healthcare technology positioned to skyrocket in popularity through 2018 and beyond. With a market value climbing from $14.3 billion in 2014 to a projected $36.2 billion by 20201, telemedicine is poised to transform the way millions of American receive healthcare in the not-so-distant future.

So, what is telemedicine and how can it help your clients?

“The remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology. This includes a wide array of clinical services using internet, wireless, satellite and telephone media,” according to the American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) telemedicine definition2.

“Telehealth” and “telecare” are often used to describe this service, so if you’re wondering “what is telehealth?”, the ATA considers the telehealth definition to be the same as the telemedicine defintion2.

As healthcare costs continue to rise in the U.S.3, tech services like telehealth can save your clients time and money, especially when it comes to those in need of non-emergency medical services. These services are often available on-demand and can range from video consultations with a certified physician to counseling with a licensed psychotherapist via smartphone, tablet or computer.

In fact, more than 70% of urgent illness conditions—colds, flus and skin infections, for example—can be treated with the help of telemedicine4.

We’re only scratching the surface when it comes to the history, applications and benefits of telemedicine for you and your clients.

Did you know…

  1. Demand for telemedicine growing—fast

Looking at the statistics, it’s easy to see why providers and consumers are using telemedicine more and more every year: convenience and cost.

The average consumer in a U.S. city spends 18.4 days between making an appointment and actually visiting their doctor’s office5. The average in-office visit takes 121 minutes—20 of which are spent actually seeing the doctor, while the rest spent traveling to/from the office and sitting in the waiting room5.

In contrast, consumers who opt for video visits spend about five minutes waiting and eight to 10 minutes seeing their doctor according to a case study on Southwest Medical Associates, one of Nevada’s largest multi-specialty medical groups6.

Providers seem to be in favor of telemedicine’s cost-reducing services as well. Over 70% of healthcare providers are currently using telemedicine solutions or services—a drastic rise from 51% in 20147.

Telemedicine can help to reduce costs8 by use of remote analysis services like physician video visits and specialized fields like telepathology (the study of diseases) and teleradiology (the transmission of radiological images like x-rays MRIs and CTs).

Furthermore, telemedicine companies often utilize a pool of healthcare providers across the country that work as one resource for the consumer. This gives consumers, especially ones in rural areas9, the freedom to receive care on their own schedule, opposed to the restrictive business hours of the brick-and-mortar healthcare facilities in their area.

  1. The history of telemedicine dates back to the 1920s

 Oftentimes, it’s amusing to look back at old media predictions of a retro-future with flying cars and robot butlers. Sometimes, they’re not far off. In 1925, Radio News published a speculative cover story by Hugo Gernsback, an American inventor who hypothesized that physicians would soon be able to hear, see, and examine their patients by way of a machine he deemed the Teladactyl with a two-way video screen and other diagnostic features10.

While Gernsback’s machine never made it to production, the seeds of telemedicine had been planted in the minds of doctors and scientists across the nation.

The American scientific community quickly built off Gernsback’s dream, culminating in 1959 when clinicians at the University of Nebraska used a two-way television system to disperse neurological examinations and related information to medical students across campus—widely considered the first medical use of video communication in the U.S.11.

Advances in telemedicine remained constant through the latter half of the century, but public interest was generally limited to residents in rural areas with small medical facilities that relied on telemedicine services like teleradiology to send and receive x-rays to radiology specialists, who could now analyze and advise doctors on the patient’s condition faster than ever before.

  1. Future applications of telemedicine could be absolutely game-changing

Just as researchers did in the 1920’s, today’s medical science and technology researchers are looking to the future of telemedicine and its’ potential applications.

The use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices has gigantic disruptive potential, which could change the way healthcare providers offer their services and receive continuing training throughout their careers.

AR mobile devices and apps have already given consumers the power to self-monitor health data points like heart rate, amount of daily physical activity, and more. Further advancements include contact lenses that provide visual prompts to diabetics when their glucose levels start fluctuating to wearables like the Apple Watch that uses near-field communication to remind users to take their prescription medications when they’re nearby12.

While VR technology is currently used for laparoscopic surgery and colonoscopy training, many hope it will eventually give medical students more opportunities to virtually perform invasive procedures and emergency resuscitations, all before they can do so on real-life patients. A number of U.S. medical school have made big changes to their anatomy curriculum by incorporating VR glasses and displays to allow realistic rotation and manipulation of anatomic models13.

This hope extends to robotic laparoscopic surgery as well, which would allow surgeons to go from monitoring a 2-D video screen before using their hands/tools to viewing live 3-D video, allowing them to perform surgery without ever diverting their gaze from these 3-D consoles14.

  1. As an HIIQ-contracted agent, you can gain a unique advantage by offering telemedicine to your clients

Naturally, we pride ourselves on innovation here at Health Insurance Innovations. So it should come as no surprise that we’ve partnered with a longstanding leading provider of telehealth services. While insurance plans vary by company and state in the extent of coverage for telemedicine services, there are many available that can come with telemedicine features. Talk to your clients about how these features can save them time and money as they face their health realities.

 

Learn more about offering products with telemedicine features to your clients by:

Health Insurance Innovations, Inc. is a leading developer and administrator of affordable, web-based individual health insurance plans and ancillary products. We help consumers address their health insurance needs by offering access to a number of products offered by various insurance carriers.

For agent use only – not for use with the general public

Sources

1: “Five Telemedicine Trends Transforming Health Care in 2016.” Nathaniel M. Lacktman. Foley.com. https://www.foley.com/five-telemedicine-trends-transforming-health-care-in-2016/

2: American Telemedicine Association. “About Telemedicine.” AmericanTelemed.org. http://www.americantelemed.org/main/about/about-telemedicine/telemedicine-faqs

3: “U.S. healthcare spending to climb 5.3 tin 2018: agency.” Yasmeen Abutaleb. Reuters.com. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-healthcare-spending/u-s-healthcare-spending-to-climb-5-3-percent-in-2018-agency-idUSKCN1FY2ZD

4: “The Importance and Value of Telemedicine.” Karandeep Virdi. ElectronicHealthReporter.comhttp://electronichealthreporter.com/importance-value-telemedicine/

5: “Paying for Health Care with Time.” Jake Miller. Harvard Medical School. https://hms.harvard.edu/news/paying-health-care-time

6: “Case Study: Southwest Medical’s winning strategy for telehealth.” Beth Principi. American Well. https://www.americanwell.com/case-study-southwest-medicals-winning-strategy-for-telehealth/

7: “71% of Healthcare Providers Use Telehealth, Telemedicine Tools.” Thomas Beaton. MHealthIntelligence.com. https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/71-of-healthcare-providers-use-telehealth-telemedicine-tools

8: “5 ways telemedicine is driving down healthcare costs.” Steff Denches. Healthcare IT News. https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/5-ways-telemedicine-driving-down-healthcare-costs

9: “Telehealth Use in Rural Healthcare.” Rural Health Information Hub. https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/telehealth

10: “Telemedicine Predicted in 1925.” Matt Novak. Smithsonian.com. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/telemedicine-predicted-in-1925-124140942/

11: “Telognosis.” J. Gershon-Cohen, A.G. Cooley. RSNA.org. https://pubs.rsna.org/doi/10.1148/55.4.582?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed

12: “How augmented reality and virtual reality devices are boosting medicine.” Chris Newmarker. Medical Design and Outsourcing. https://www.medicaldesignandoutsourcing.com/how-ar-vr-devices-boosting-medicine/

13: “Virtual Reality Check.” Nicholas Genes, MD, PhD. Telemed Magazine. http://www.telemedmag.com/article/2016715ub73avh975fjs43o8ixcivxd304uag/

14: “VIRTUAL REALITY AND THE FUTURE OF TELEMEDICINE.” Tim Edlund. Synoptec Blog. https://www.softworksgroup.com/synoptec-blog/virtual-reality-and-the-future-of-telemedicine/

 

 

 

Healthcare solutions for college students

Meet College Students and Recent Grads at the Coverage Table with These Health Care Solutions

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.”

–Charles Bowden

Ah, the sand, the sun, the memories made, and the fun. Summer has settled in across the country, and we’re all finding ways to celebrate. But the lull between semesters and before graduation can see the celebration for some to come to a screeching halt: 72% of college students and recent grads are struggling to find affordable health insurance.

With 40% of this demographic mostly concerned about the cost of premiums and 20% concerned about high out-of-pocket costs, these prospective clients will undoubtedly have questions for you this summer. They may be coming off their student coverage through their universities or their parents’ health plans or they may be waiting for coverage sponsored by their new employers to begin. They may also be priced out of traditional major medical coverage as well. Short-term medical plans may be just what they need.

STM plans can include benefits and features such as:

  • Flexibility in cost depending on benefits selected
  • Variety of deductible and coinsurance options
  • Benefits that are paid in a similar manner to traditional major medical plans
  • Wellness options
  • Little to no waiting periods
  • Next day coverage for some carriers
  • Relatively inexpensive premiums due to lower and more restricted benefits
  • Low-cost doctor and specialist copays depending on plan selected
  • Open network of physicians, specialists, and hospital depending on plan selected

It’s not just the college students and recent grads who are concerned. Their families may have questions about what makes sense as well. It’s important to make sure all those concerned understand what benefits STM plans may offer as well as their limitations. This level of coverage is available at any time in the year and can be cancelled at any time. It can also offer access to providers of their choice, including providers they visited through their parents’ health coverage. If they need to change providers, STM plans provide them the opportunity to file their own claim and submit for reimbursement if needed.

However, STM coverage does not provide the minimum essential health benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will not help them avoid the penalty for not carrying health insurance. At this time, STM plans also have a maximum duration of 3 months. Continuation of coverage requires re-application and there are also limits on how many times someone can re-apply. In addition, pre-existing conditions may not be covered. Benefits vary by plan and state and may not include those that are listed above. Make sure your clients review any plans they’re considering carefully.

If these clients aren’t eligible for STM coverage and priced out of ACA coverage, they may find health benefit insurance plans (commonly known as limited benefit medical plans) to fit their healthcare needs.

Health benefit insurance plans are designed to provide a wide variety of expenses for accidental injuries, sickness, inpatient surgical care, outpatient care, and even pre-existing conditions. Plans vary as to which specific expenses they cover, but often times, this level of coverage may provide little to no waiting periods, access to doctors nationwide, and benefits for critical illness and/or accidental death.

HBI coverage can also offer benefits and features such as:

  • Freedom to choose any doctor or hospital of their choice
  • Guaranteed issue coverage with $50-$100 paid toward doctor and specialist visits
  • Next day coverage or little to no waiting periods for accidental injuries or sickness
  • 12 month waiting period for pre-existing conditions
  • Ability to supplement existing coverage
  • Access to non-insurance benefits such as a prescription savings program, 24/7/365 video and phone access to quality physicians, and a patient advocacy service

Before enrolling your clients into this level of coverage, please make sure they understand that it does not count as minimum essential coverage required by the Affordable Care Act and is not suitable to serve as their only medical coverage. Although the premiums may be lower than a major medical plan, the benefits are also lower and more restricted.

Benefits offered vary by plan and states. Not available in all states.

Are you ready to help college students and recent grads enroll in the coverage they need today?

Learn more today by:

Calling 1.877.376.5831 and selecting option 3

Emailing salessupport@hiiquote.com

Health Insurance Innovations, Inc. is a leading developer and administrator of affordable, web-based individual health insurance plans and ancillary products. We help consumers address their health insurance needs by offering access to a number of products offered by various insurance carriers.

For agent use only – not for use with the general public

Debunking short term medical insurance myths for clients

Debunk These Misconceptions About Short-Term Medical Plans

Misconceptions about short-term medical plans are common. While STM plans can provide quality benefits that meet a variety of budget needs, they fall outside of traditional healthcare coverage options, prompting your clients to have questions. The cost of healthcare continues to rise, and political scrutiny and legislative updates continue to impact the industry and your clients’ wallets. There is no better time to make sure your clients have a thorough understanding of their options so they can help to protect their health as well as the health of their loved ones and their finances.

STM plans, also called temporary health insurance, are medical plans that have a limited duration. They are designed to bridge gaps in healthcare coverage during a period of transition such as graduating from college or starting a new job. Here are 4 common misconceptions about short-term medical plans:

Misconception #1: Only a limited number of doctors accept short-term medical plans.

STM plans are accepted by many providers and facilities across the nation. If a client chooses to see an out-of-network provider, it could result in higher out-of-pocket costs. Some STM plans may provide for the services to be covered (depending on the plan) via a reimbursement, but the policyholder will pay upfront for and submit her/his own claim.

These plans often feature provider networks that ensure lower rates than providers who are outside of the network, but that doesn’t preclude your clients from choosing providers of their choice.

Just like with traditional major medical plans, clients with short-term medical coverage who choose to receive medical services outside of the featured network may incur higher out-of-pocket costs.

Help your clients know how to make the most of their benefits. This includes knowing how and where to access their member ID card, who to call with questions about benefits, who to call with questions about claims, and where to access their provider directory and pertinent details of their coverage.

Misconception #2: Only those who are young and in good health are good candidates for short-term medical coverage.  

This level of coverage may fit the needs of clients who are:

  • Transitioning between jobs
  • Waiting for employer insurance to begin
  • Graduating from college
  • Rolling off parents’ coverage
  • Waiting for Medicare coverage to become effective

You may have clients who are looking for healthcare options outside of Open Enrollment. Or you may have a client who is looking for coverage that includes preventive care for herself and her family before her new policy through her employer starts. While benefits may be limited, this level of coverage may suit such clients’ needs and help them tackle their healthcare realities. There are a variety of plans available, some of which may even be a good fit for clients who want to see providers of their choice.

Disclaimer: Short-term medical coverage is not intended to be a replacement or alternative to ACA or other major medical plans nor does it provide the minimum essential health benefits that are required and it won’t help to avoid the fee for not carrying health insurance. They can have exclusions and limitations, which may not make them a valid option for some clients.

Misconception #3: Short-term medical coverage is expensive and doesn’t provide quality coverage.

STM premiums are often lower than major medical premiums because they offer more limited and/or restricted benefits. The coverage provided by STM plans can provide a range of valuable insurance benefits for individuals and families such as:

  • Preventive care and routine doctor visits
  • Emergency care*
  • Inpatient and outpatient surgery and hospital care*

Similar to major medical, your clients can enjoy added non-insurance benefits as well such as:

  • Mobile access to board-certified doctors who can treat many common illnesses
  • Patient advocacy service that can help navigate the world of healthcare and negotiate medical bills
  • Prescription savings membership that can lower out-of-pocket costs
  • Digital fitness tool to help track your wellness journey

However, the coverage provided by short-term medical plans does not include:

  • Immediate benefits for hospital stays, surgery or anesthesia for conditions you already have
  • Benefits for prescription drugs

STM plans do not have coverage requirements, so plans vary in what is covered. Review any plan details with a client prior to purchase. Additionally, STM does not cover pre-existing conditions. Applicants are subject to underwriting approval based on answers to medical questions. Coverage is limited to a time period of no longer than three months.

*Typically not covered for pre-existing conditions

Misconception #4: Short-term medical plans can help those enrolled avoid the Affordable Care Act’s tax penalty.

While STM coverage can be an affordable and quality option for your clients who are looking to help bridge the gap in their health coverage, it does not qualify as minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act. That means that they are likely to face tax penalties. Your clients who are without minimum essential coverage for less than 3 months within a year and those who belong to certain groups are exempt from the penalty.

Because STM plans don’t have to adhere to ACA regulations, your clients have a range of plan options to choose from, including some with lower monthly rates than major medical plans. Current legislative reform attempts are expected to make room for more STM plan options.

 

Are you ready to expand your client offerings with short-term medical options?

Learn more today by:

Calling 877.376.5831 and selecting option 3

Emailing salessupport@hiiquote.com

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