Answers to Your Most Common Questions About Telemedicine

Telemedicine not only limits transmitting viruses, like COVID-19, it also increases access to care

No doctor’s office handy or available? No problem. Telemedicine can ensure that even those who are too distant or too immunocompromised to visit a physical doctor’s office can access medical care.

What is Telehealth vs. Telemedicine?

Telehealth and telemedicine are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two terms.
“Telehealth is a broader term than telemedicine, encompassing more aspects of healthcare that can be done remotely, including education, administration, public health, and other non-clinical activities,” explains Elizabeth Krupinski, Ph.D., the University of Arizona co-director for the Southwest Telehealth Resource Center and associate director of evaluation for the Arizona Telemedicine Program. “Telemedicine refers specifically to the delivery of clinical services remotely using a variety of technologies.”

What are the Major Telemedicine Benefits and Drawbacks?

Telemedicine increases access to care and reduces travel. It can also increase satisfaction for patients and providers because it can cut down on hospital admissions and potential wait times, trims costs, improves health outcomes, and more, according to Krupinski. During times of increased risk of disease transmission, including the COVID-19 pandemic, it also keeps everyone more protected from transmitting viruses.
“There are few cons, but rather some challenges,” Krupinski says. “Not everyone has access to technology; not all of telemedicine is reimbursed by insurance; and some state and federal laws restrict the practice of telemedicine.”
Expect that your first visit will last 30 to 60 minutes, and follow-ups will usually be quick — around 15 minutes.
“Having an established relationship with a provider obviously makes the visit easier as they already know who you are and what’s in your health history,” Krupinski says.

What Technology Do You Need for Telemedicine?

Telemedicine relies on technology, so a secure internet connection is necessary. But if you don’t have access to that at home, alternatives exist.
“Kiosks offer direct-to-consumer telemedicine in some communities, and many hospitals and clinics have arrangements with places like public health offices, senior centers, and community centers to offer sites that are secure and decked out with the technology necessary to carry out a telemedicine visit,” Krupinski says. “During COVID-19, smartphones with certain programs have a mode to do telemedicine, and hopefully, this will remain until the pandemic calms down.”
Call or email your current — or potential — provider to inquire about telemedicine options and what technology you might need to participate.

What Kind of Care Can Telemedicine Include, and Does Medicare Cover It?

“Mental and behavioral health is one of the most common uses of telemedicine for all ages,” Krupinski says. “It’s very effective, since it offers an easy way to seek consistent, frequent care for things like substance abuse and depression.”
Certain prescription administrations and refills can be done via telemedicine — as can virtual check-ins and e-visits from professionals, including doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and more. Most often, Medicare patients pay 20% while their coverage handles the rest. Call or email your provider to confirm, and watch the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website throughout the COVID-19 pandemic since it’s a rapidly evolving situation and government coverage levels may change.

This article may contain links to third party websites, but Medico is neither responsible nor liable for their content, accuracy, or security. Review our Terms and Conditions to learn more.

Photo credit: iStock


Request a Free Quote

Call 888-755-3066, or click the button
below to have an agent contact you
to develop a personalized free quote
for any of our insurance plans.


How to Choose Supplemental Health Insurance That’s Right for You

Deciding the best supplemental policy for your needs out of myriad of options can be difficult. Learn key insurance terms and how to use them to choose the right supplemental health insurance policy for your needs.

Read More

8 Ways to Minimize Coronavirus Isolation for Seniors

Seniors, who are especially vulnerable to social isolation right now, can minimize senior isolation with these small actions.

Learn More

Protect Yourself from These 10 COVID-19 Scams

Government and fraud investigation organizations are urging consumers to be on high alert for a variety of coronavirus-related scams. 

Learn More

How to Find Senior Care That’s Right for You

If you’re weighing senior care options for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to learn what each type offers, which will work best for your situation, and what insurance will cover.

Read More

Don't Forget Healthcare and Insurance When Retirement Planning

It's easy to focus solely on saving, but don't forget to include healthcare and insurance in your retirement planning.

Read More

Fill Medicare and Medicare Advantage Gaps with Hospital Indemnity Riders

Medicare and Medicare Advantage cover some expenses associated with a hospital stay, but not all of them. The good news is Hospital Indemnity insurance and its riders can supplement these plans, helping to fill coverage gaps and lessen financial stress.

Read More