December 9, 2023

The best telemedicine provider for you can vary based on your needs, price point, and level of urgency. Certain companies may be covered by some insurance plans. Some help you find the doctor who is best for you.

It can be difficult to make time to see a doctor at the best of times, and even more so if the ongoing pandemic creates additional concerns. Between busy schedules and limited appointment availability, staying healthy can lead to extra stress.

Telemedicine allows you to discuss non-emergency medical issues with a doctor by phone or online at a time that’s convenient for you.

Telemedicine offers access to licensed medical professionals for people who may not have access otherwise. It often provides lower costs for services.

It also can be a cost-effective way for people who do not have insurance, or whose insurance does not cover certain costs, to get care.

Though telemedicine can be beneficial for a number of reasons, it should not replace in-person doctor visits.

It’s important to keep in mind that telemedicine healthcare professionals do not have the ability to take your blood or urine samples, heart rate, blood pressure, or other important medical tests. For example, with the lack of physical touch in telemedicine, the results of a physical exam could be greatly hampered.

Telemedicine is great and very convenient for anyone with a busy job, hectic life, or otherwise jam-packed schedule.

Attending an appointment virtually, either at your home or office, can make all the difference. For some people, it can reduce — or even eliminate — the need to find and pay for child care, or take time off from work.

Plus, it’s a great option for people who may not otherwise have access to certain physicians or physician types, or who cannot afford, or prefer not to pay, the price of standard medical visits.

Additionally, people who are immunocompromised or who have underlying health conditions could be at greater risk when in a doctor’s office.

Telemedicine is also a very accessible way to see a physician for certain purposes, like refilling a prescription or sharing preliminary information, checking symptoms, or bringing up concerns about a health issue that does not require a physical examination.

This is especially true for people with disabilities or who have limitations getting around physically, or those who are geographically isolated or incarcerated.

That said, telemedicine is inaccessible to anyone without regular computer or smartphone access or a reliable internet connection. It’s also important to keep in mind that there can be safety concerns, both physical and otherwise, when you have the ability to be on the go. Driving while taking a telemedicine appointment is not recommended at all — both tasks require your full attention, and it would be better if you were in a safe space to take your appointment.

While telemedicine makes appointments easier and more mobile, be careful not to take your appointment in public places, as privacy could be an issue. Whether it’s privacy concerns regarding the internet, or how much you say in a public space, it’s safer for you to talk to your doctor in a secluded, secure space for you to discuss any concerns you have openly without an audience.

We chose the following telemedicine options based on:

  • Ratings: We carefully considered customer reviews to find out what it’s really like to use these telemedicine companies.
  • Types of services offered: We looked for companies that can help with a variety of medical issues, and many also offer lab testing and mental health services.
  • Pricing: We chose companies that offer different payment options to suit a variety of budgets.
  • Accessibility: We considered how services and results are delivered — via phone call, video, apps, and more — and whether you’ll have access to 24/7 care.
  • Vetting: The companies on our list have been vetted to ensure that they align with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. You can read more about our vetting process.

Best overall

Sesame Care

You can book a same-day appointment for an initial health visit. Prices vary by location, and reviewers say prices are overall affordable.

Sesame Care providers are often less expensive than your health insurance copay. However, depending on your coverage, you might be eligible for reimbursement of healthcare fees for professionals not usually covered by your insurance network.

If you have medication prescribed at a local pharmacy, you can use your insurance to pay for the medication, and you will only owe your copay or deductible costs for that medication.

Sesame Care offers a number of treatments for medical issues like:

  • skin care
  • dental care
  • mental health
  • wellness and disease prevention
  • chronic condition care
  • diabetes care
  • men’s health
  • sleep issues

Most affordable

PlushCare

PlushCare books video appointments online or via its app. You can book ahead for when it’s convenient or find a same-day appointment if you need one. The company says it offers treatments “from head to toe.”

PlushCare can also refill many common prescriptions and send them to your local pharmacy, although that list does not include controlled substances.

PlushCare is in-network with many insurers. It requires a monthly membership fee of $14.99 or $99 for the year, after which the first visit is either $129 or your insurance copay.

Best for nonurgent medical care

Teladoc

Teladoc was one of the first telehealth companies in the United States. The company has maintained a highly favorable rating among physicians and patients.

Teladoc’s team helps by connecting you to your choice of an in-network lab or facility. Your healthcare professional reviews your results with you, which are uploaded to your account once ready.

If you have insurance, general medical visit fees can be as low as $0 and are $75 if you do not have insurance. Pricing varies based on your insurance plan and your medical care needs. Contact Teladoc for more details.

Teladoc can be used for a wide range of medical issues, including:

  • pediatric services
  • nonemergency medical issues
  • dermatological conditions
  • mental health consultations for conditions such as depression and substance use disorders
  • sexual health consultations

Teladoc physicians can also send prescriptions to your pharmacy or analyze lab results. Your primary care physician can order lab work, imaging studies, vaccinations, and referrals.

Best for fast, straightforward service

MeMD

Creating an account on MeMD is simple. Once your account is set up, you can speak with a nurse practitioner or physician directly via webcam.

You and your healthcare professional can discuss one symptom or condition, or you can discuss multiple symptoms or conditions during a single consultation without paying an additional fee.

Lab tests cannot be ordered through MeMD, but healthcare professionals can answer questions about an existing lab report.

MeMD healthcare professionals can also send needed prescriptions to your preferred pharmacy.

Urgent care services are $67, as are men’s and women’s health visits. A talk therapy session can cost up to $85.

For psychiatry, an initial 45-minute visit is $229. Follow-up visits “to manage medications and evaluate progress” are $99. It’s not clear on their website if you need a referral before booking a psychiatry appointment.

Best for consistent care provider

HealthTap

HealthTap claims to have 90,000 U.S.-licensed physicians to answer your health questions. Doctors are available for video chats or to answer text messages. They can also order lab tests and write or refill prescriptions.

Memberships cost $15 monthly to provide users with specialized telemedicine care, including primary care.

Notably, a free account can still access an automated symptom checker and get personalized answers to anonymous health questions within a day.

Best for general medical care

Amwell

Two brothers who are both doctors founded American Well, which was rebranded as Amwell. They wanted to make basic healthcare more affordable and eliminate barriers, such as distance, mobility, and time.

In addition to the website, Amwell’s mobile application, available on iPhone and Android, can also connect you with a doctor.

When using the service, you’ll be matched with doctors in your state. Appointment costs vary by type, with urgent care visits starting at $79 before insurance.

In addition to urgent care and general medical questions, Amwell also has a variety of other video medical services available, such as:

  • widely acclaimed therapy
  • psychiatry
  • breastfeeding support
  • nutrition counseling
  • pediatrics
  • women’s health
  • second opinions

Best comprehensive telemedicine company

MDLive

MDLive was founded in 2009. The company is continually building partnerships with healthcare systems across the U.S.

Urgent care visits are $82 or possibly less, depending on your insurance. The same goes for dermatology at $95 and counseling at $108. An initial psychiatric visit is $284, with follow-ups at $108. Insurance is accepted for all visits, including behavioral health, so the costs will depend on your insurance plan.

Board-certified physicians and other healthcare professionals are available by phone or online video 24 hours per day. They can help answer your questions about non-emergency medical conditions, such as:

Mental health professionals are also available.

Best platform for choosing doctors

Doctor on Demand

One thing that sets Doctor on Demand apart from its competitors is that it allows people to add a doctor to their “favorites.” After your first consultation, you can select that doctor again if they’re available when you’re scheduling future appointments.

Doctor on Demand also offers new parents online assistance from board certified lactation consultants.

Connecting with a doctor for 15 minutes costs $75. For mental health services, the price scales up to $299 for an initial 45-minute psychiatric consultation. Video visits under this service are covered by Medicare Part B.

Best for custom treatment plans

LiveHealth Online

LiveHealth Online lets members select their doctors. Once you sign up, you can see who’s available in your state and then request a video consultation.

The platform says you should be connected with the doctor you’ve chosen within a few minutes.

Doctors are available for appointments 24/7.

LiveHealth’s offerings include allergy visits, in which you can map out a treatment plan and get a prescription if needed.

Several major insurance companies cover LiveHealth visits, which start from $59 without insurance.

Best for quick response time

Virtuwell

Virtuwell handles the diagnostic part of telemedicine by asking you to describe your symptoms in an online interview.

If the symptoms and condition sound like something Virtuwell can treat, a nurse practitioner will receive the report. They can then look at a visible symptom, if necessary, and create a treatment plan.

The service costs $59 without insurance. Virtuwell says it guarantees satisfaction or will provide a refund.

Conditions eligible for virtual consultations include:

With so many telemedicine options to choose from, you might not know where to begin. By focusing on which companies specialize in or accommodate what you need, you can narrow down the right options for you.

For example, if you have a specific health condition or communication style preference, look into telemedicine companies that have experience with similar ailments or work in the way you want.

You should also consider whether you’re likely to need lab work or prescriptions, and ensure the company or medical professional you’re considering can arrange for those.

Lastly, it’s important to consider your preferred payment method. Maybe you need a company that can provide documentation for your health insurance reimbursement, or maybe you prefer to pay by debit. Find out in advance if the company you choose can accommodate different payment options.

Prices last updated November 2022

Telemedicine services allow people to get healthcare services digitally, usually with a computer or smartphone app. Some telemedicine platforms also provide services through phone calls and emails.

Telemedicine should not be used in place of an in-person doctor visit. Instead, services can be used to:

  • assess when an in-person visit is necessary
  • prescribe and refill certain medications
  • treat minor medical conditions
  • provide mental health services

Many telemedicine services accept insurance plans from major providers, but one benefit of telemedicine is that most services are made to be cost-effective for people who do not have insurance.

Both telemedicine and telehealth refer to services that are offered via phone or video compared to in-person services. However, there is a difference between the two.

Telemedicine specifically refers to digital clinical healthcare services.

Telehealth is broader and includes nonclinical health services.

Telehealth can include services such as training for healthcare professionals and medical education, as well as other non-clinical services and information.

Though there are slight differences between telemedicine and telehealth, the two terms are often used interchangeably.

If you’re looking to save money on healthcare expenses, or you do not have health insurance, there are some low cost and free health services available.

For example, the Health and Human Services Health Resources Services Administration and Find a Health Center offer a directory of health clinics that operate on a sliding scale. If you do not have insurance or cannot pay, you can still get care.

If you’re looking for a pregnancy test, birth control, or services related to sexual health, Planned Parenthood offers many discounted and free services.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers a confidential free service for anyone needing assistance regarding substance and mental health issues. Some of the telehealth services mentioned above can be free with insurance, like Teledoc and LiveHealth Online.

Who is the largest telemedicine provider?

Teladoc Health is the largest telemedicine provider, with $1.09 billion in revenue and over 1,800 employees.

Who are the leaders in telemedicine?

Aside from Teladoc Health, the key leaders in telemedicine are Amwell, MDLive, and Doctor on Demand.

Who is Teladoc’s biggest competitor?

MDLive is Teladoc’s biggest competitor, with $140.9 million in revenue.

What does telemedicine exclude?

Telemedicine healthcare professionals cannot take blood or urine samples, heart rate, blood pressure, or other important medical tests like a hands-on physical exam (which includes listening to the heart and lungs, examining the abdomen, and more). These services still must be done at a lab or through an in-person physician visit.

Telemedicine makes it easier than ever to get medical treatment and information. It can also be a more affordable alternative for people without insurance.

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