How to Get Telehealth Care When You’re Uninsured
We have all had to adjust to virtual living in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many small business owners have taken their businesses online through eCommerce and marketing through social media. The health system has also been forced to adjust, including adapting to virtual health appointments.
Now that we’re all adjusting to the “new normal,” telehealth remains one of the conveniences that are here to stay.
Telehealth has proven to be an affordable option for millions of people who don’t have insurance through their employer.
If you’re currently interested in telehealth for uninsured persons, we have you covered.
Know What Telehealth Includes
Telehealth refers to mixing any kind of digital info and communication software with medical care.
The mode doesn’t matter; it can be a computer, a smartphone, or any electronic device that lets you communicate via software like Zoom or even a simple text message.
Goals of Telehealth
The healthcare industry is naturally supposed to be at the forefront of technology. If there’s an advancement on the horizon that could save lives, researchers are likely trying to get it out to medical professionals ASAP.
Telehealth is one of those innovations. The overarching goals of the technology are to help improve the way patients can access care and the quality of care that doctors and nurses can provide.
The mobile health (mHealth) goals are broken down into five main points:
- Healthcare should be accessible to everyone, even those underserved in remote or isolated areas.
- Medical specialists need to be more accessible to everyone.
- People who have trouble affording transportation or struggle with mobility — or simply don’t have enough hours in the day — should be able to receive the same care as those with the means.
- Real-time communication among healthcare teams improves critical patient care opportunities.
- Patients should be able to manage their healthcare at home with support as needed.
Each of those targets will improve healthcare quality and reach in distinctly different ways.
Telehealth in Action
Here’s a simple example of telehealth in action in a medical clinic daily.
The typical busy office receives numerous phone calls hourly. These calls are often from patients who want to talk to the doctor about something they’re concerned about.
It’s the office staff’s job to field those calls and only pass urgent messages on to the doctor. With an online portal, patients and providers work together in a coordinated fashion while making the front office staff’s lives easier.
Administrative workers are essential to medical practice, but they aren’t trained in the medical field and don’t always recognize the difference between a minor symptom and a dangerous sign.
Find Telehealth Care for the Currently Uninsured
When you don’t have insurance, going to the doctor is one of those things that takes a backseat to other expenses. Your health is a priority, though. It should come first —and it can — if you know where to find free and low-cost televisits.
Many health centers provide telehealth services on a sliding scale. It doesn’t matter if you can pay or not; they take care of you anyway. Use the HRSA Data Warehouse to see if there are any centers near you.
You may have to attend the first time in person, but once you’re established, you can virtually access their doctors for follow-up healthcare services.
Mental Health Care
Mental and behavioral health is part of your overall wellness, and counseling is available online.
The stigma about mental illness is disappearing. In its place is a focus on helping people understand themselves better and, in the process, learn how to handle their emotions and behaviors.
If you’re concerned about putting money into therapy, check out all of the mental health services provided by Teladoc Health through Gigly’s affordable membership.
Help is out there, and you don’t have to leave your house to get it.
Other Options for Telehealth Services
Maybe you’re self-employed and don’t qualify for free or reduced services, or you prefer to have something consistent where you pick the healthcare providers you see.
You’re not out of luck. You just need Gigly!
Gigly partners with the Alliance of Gig Workers, giving members access to discounted corporate insurance rates. The Limited Indemnity Plan gig workers get through Gigly includes telehealth at little-to-no cost to you.
For a small premium, you’ll get access to clinicians or hospitals you choose.
And, with Aetna’s First Health provider network, your options are even greater.
Put your health in your capable hands by investing in Gigly’s insurance plans. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing telehealth, regular doctor’s office visits, specialists, and the emergency room are all within reach and affordable.
A New Outlook on Telehealth Benefits
Direct care isn’t the only sector feeling the advantages of telehealth. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies have seen a difference in their profit margins.
Government Insurance Restrictions
Medicare, Medicaid, and other government health plans can be a bit strict. Recipients must already be established patients with the provider and engage in a video visit. Otherwise, insurance coverage won’t reimburse the office.
Private Insurance and Telehealth
Private insurers vary in how they cover telehealth services but tend to be more flexible than government programs. Many companies offer this benefit for free or with a small copay charged to members.
Patients can opt for online visits where a form is used to list symptoms and problems, and the physician emails a response.
Or, video and phone consultations are available, as long as the provider uses the insurer’s approved app or online interface.
If you don’t have insurance at all, you can still benefit from telemedicine services.
Because it makes it easier for providers to connect with patients, many private-pay services are offered through your smartphone or computer.
Wherever you are, you can be connected to a professional doctor, counselor, or nurse to use telehealth for a discounted fee.
Telehealth Appointment or Physical Visit?
Telehealth isn’t intended to replace doctor’s visits. It’s a supplemental aspect that works hand-in-hand with them to streamline care. Consider it a method of health services that separate urgent from important.
What Televisits Help With
Your doctor can deny a telehealth visit if you have something more serious going on than a virtual consultation can thoroughly handle.
However, if you have a minor or moderate problem, a televisit can streamline your care and get you in front of a doctor (via a screen) faster than the wait times of an office visit.
Televisits are beneficial for problems that aren’t urgent but are important, like:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Intestinal issues
- Coughing, fever, sore throat, and other signs of a cold or virus
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Rashes, insect bites, and other skin conditions
- Sinus pain or infection
In general, if it’s important enough that it needs a doctor’s help to fix, but it’s not part of a serious health condition, a televisit could solve the problem.
What You Should Know About Telehealth
Not every doctor provides telehealth services, although many are working on the transition. It requires a substantial investment in technology resources and secure healthcare platforms, so — understandably — some providers haven’t moved into that sector just yet.
When you do find a doctor who offers teleservices, it means you’ll get access to the following types of assistance:
- Patient portals that store your medical records, including updated lab and diagnostic testing, and where you can communicate with the doctor and nurse
- Virtual appointments for non-urgent care
- Remote apps that allow the physician to monitor your health from a distance
We’ve barely scratched the surface of the advantages of telehealth in the medical field, but there’s enough evidence to show it’s a service that isn’t going away.
Keep in mind that there are some disadvantages to getting your healthcare provided over a virtual screen. There are some realities that technology can’t overcome quite yet, such as the impossibility of an in-person doctor visit. Hands-on care is sometimes what clinicians need to make a final diagnosis.
Telehealth with someone who isn’t your primary care provider relies on you to be wholly open and honest about your medical history and current symptoms. Whether you think something is related or not, it needs to be shared with the doctor. Otherwise, they may not be able to give you an accurate diagnosis.
Who Benefits From Telehealth Care?
When the pandemic was at its peak, we were all nervous about every minor cough and sniffle. The problem was that going to the doctor in-person exposed us to more germs and was a risk to their staff and other patients.
It was a Catch-22 that had to be fixed fast.
There Was a Problem. Telehealth Became the Solution.
Most insurance companies used to see telehealth services as “less than” a true visit. They’d deny reimbursement, and the doctor would have to write off the service or bill the patient.
But during the pandemic, the government wanted to track the number of coronavirus cases. However, no one wanted to go anywhere to get tested for fear of catching or spreading the virus. Symptoms of serious conditions like heart attacks were ignored for the same reason.
Telehealth Saves the Day!
It quickly became obvious that clinicians needed to see patients somehow, and that virtual visits were way better than no visit at all. Insurance companies approved emergency measures to allow televisits, and patients felt safe again.
Post-pandemic, telehealth services have become the preferred option for many patients and insurance companies.
How Patients, Staff, and Doctors Benefit from Telehealth
Going to the doctor was universally dreaded by so many that there was a name for it: White Coat Syndrome (WCS).
Patients with WCS can exhibit the following symptoms:
- High blood pressure
This syndrome has almost miraculously disappeared with the in-person component taken out of the visit.
Patients benefit from telehealth as they upload their food, blood pressure, and blood sugar logs to their portal. Nurses review and respond electronically if changes are necessary.
Patient portals cut down on the stress of going to the office for refills on prescriptions or testing supplies, or the delay of waiting until your next appointment to see your lab and test results.
Of course, all of these changes also benefit the office staff and physicians, who can check and respond to requests at their convenience. Automated text and email services remind patients about their upcoming appointments or when it’s time to schedule a visit, too.
The world is going virtual at warp speed. You can take advantage of this change by handling your minor medical concerns with telehealth via an experienced healthcare professional.
Gigly’s services provide freelancers with everything they need to succeed in this new, mostly online era, including healthcare. Take care of your health — and see the other benefits Gigly offers — today.