How You Can Get The Care You Need And Stay Safe During COVID-19
Accessing needed healthcare in California has never been more critical – and more challenging – than it is right now. When doing even the simplest errands can make you feel like you are taking a chance with your life, the idea of sitting in a crowded waiting room or ER to see a doctor or get treatment can be downright terrifying.
But even during COVID-19, people still get sick or suffer injuries unrelated to the pandemic that requires a doctor’s advice or a nurse’s care. That is why telemedicine – the ability to consult with a physician by phone, video conference – is playing an increasingly important role in healthcare in California.
Fortunately, most group health insurance companies in California understand the need for reliable and safe alternatives to in-person doctor visits during the current crisis. The vast majority of plans provide telehealth options and coverage for remote healthcare services.
And for a current update on COVID-19 and employee benefits, read here.
California leaders also recognize the crucial need for telehealth services during the pandemic. On April 3, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an Executive Order relaxing restrictions on the use of telemedicine, noting that “it is imperative to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect health care workers, including through the use of telehealth services, where possible, for any reason (not limited to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 or related conditions).”
Your Group Plan For Healthcare in California Likely Offers and Covers Telemedicine Services
If you have coverage through a California group health plan, now is a good time to check your plan documents to see what they say about telehealth services and coverage. Most policies will discuss some or all of the following remote options for healthcare in California: virtual visits, chatlines, and DispatchHealth visits.
You can visit with a physician online and your plan may cover your remote session at no cost. During a virtual visit, your doctor can evaluate, diagnose, and recommend courses of treatment -including issuing prescriptions – for many common health issues such as pink eye, strep throat, rashes, stomach issues, and allergic reactions.
Virtual visits allow you to get you the guidance and care you need without an unnerving trip to the emergency room, walk-in clinic, or primary care physician’s office. Of course, your condition may still require an in-person visit if it is more serious or if your doctor concludes that they cannot properly address your issues virtually.
Like virtual visits, medical chatlines give patients the chance to ask questions and get answers from a physician, nurse, or other practitioners while never leaving the house. These chatlines look like those you see on other websites. They are essentially “instant messages” between you and a licensed healthcare provider. Many California group insurance plans cover – and actually encourage – their members’ use of chat lines and may cover the costs at 100%. Check your plan’s Summary Of Benefits and Coverage to understand how your insurer handles medical chatlines.
As noted, virtual visits, chatlines, or other telehealth services are not suitable for all medical conditions. If your health issue requires an in-person appointment, a visit to your home by a DispatchHealth medical professional is a great option.
DispatchHealth is a program that brings healthcare practitioners directly to you. You can arrange for an in-home appointment through the DispatchHealth app, on their website, or on a brief phone call. DispatchHealth will then send board-certified medical teams to your house, equipped with all the diagnostic and other tools needed for your treatment. With DispatchHealth, you can get the care you require without the worry and risks of a visit to your doctor’s office, an emergency room, or an Urgent Care clinic.
DispatchHealth may be part of your plan for healthcare in California, as almost all major group insurance carriers have contracts with the program. The cost of a DispatchHealth visit will most likely be the same as an Urgent Care copayment.
You can find Urgent Care locations throughout California that can handle most minor health conditions if you can’t use the at-home options described above. Most group insurance plans cover Urgent Care visits with a copayment or apply any of the costs of Urgent Care services towards your plan deductible.
We Ensure Your Healthcare in California During These Difficult Times
We know that these are unprecedented and uncertain times. Preferred Insurance, an experienced California small business and individual health insurance broker, is here to answer your questions and provide solutions that can keep you and your workforce safe and healthy. In response to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place, we have ensured that we can handle everything via video conferencing, telephone, or email.
Call Preferred Insurance California to schedule a free consultation about your small business or individual health insurance needs.