Can you talk with a doctor online?
Online doctor services have been growing in accessibility in recent years, thanks to improved technology, heightened security, more acceptance by health insurance, and overall public comfort with using a smart phone, app and other tech to communicate with health-care providers.
The benefits of communicating with an online doctor — whether a long-time family practitioner, a specialist near you, or through one of the many online doctor portals — are many:
- Quick service — often immediate appointments available
- Access to a wide variety of specialists throughout the country (you’re not limited to those in your community)
- Easy to get second opinions
11 websites and apps to talk to a doctor online
In this article, you’ll find a detailed review of the 11 top providers in the telehealth industry today.
With one exception (Virtuwell), every one of the providers follows HIPAA compliance.
What is Teladoc?
Teladoc is a telemedicine and virtual healthcare provider, founded in 2002, and offers board-certified doctors and therapists online in all 50 U.S. states.
How does Teladoc work?
While Teladoc is not meant to be used in emergency situations, you can talk to a doctor online through the Teladoc app via a phone or video session.
To connect with an online Teladoc physician, create an account, provide your state, your medical history (similar to what you would provide at a traditional doctor’s office), and decide what time you’d like to meet. From there, your online doctor can diagnose, treat, and prescribe medicine.
What can a doctor on Teladoc treat?
Online doctors through Teladoc can cover a wide range of health needs:
- Everyday Care, which covers anything you may otherwise go to Urgent Care for (such as stomach aches and the flu, or for dermatological care such as acne or eczema)
- Children & Family Care, which covers pediatric care (such as pink eye, or rashes, as well as expert advice and diagnoses)
- Mental Health Care, which covers issues such as anxiety or stress
- Wellness and Prevention, which can cover basic preventative measures and wellness checks for nutrition, back pain and sexual health
How much does Teladoc cost?
Teladoc can cost you as little $0 if your insurance covers your visit. However, you can still use Teladoc if you don’t have insurance; a basic visit for Everyday Care would be no more than $75 without insurance coverage. Mental health services have different costs. For example:
- Therapist visits cost $99, and remain that way for single and recurring visits with the same therapist
- Psychiatrist visits cost $299 for the initial visit, and $199 for recurring visits
What is MDLIVE?
MDLIVE, an online health provider that works directly with patients, health insurance and health systems to cover a variety of issues, including behavioral health and dermatology, as well as standard medical treatment.
An important thing to note about MDLIVE, however, is that the costs are a bit higher than some other providers reviewed here, though they are upfront about their estimated costs for different services.
How does MDLIVE work?
MDLIVE works much the same way most online providers do: patients schedule appointments either by phone, secure video chat, or the app to talk with a doctor online in their state.
What can a doctor on MDLIVE treat?
MDLIVE online doctors diagnose and treat a wide variety of issues, and prescribe non-narcotic medicine. In some cases, an online doctor with MDLIVE may offer emergency refill prescriptions for 2-3 days if the patient can show they already have a prescription that needs covering.
How much does MDLIVE cost?
MDLIVE accepts most health insurances, and they have a detailed price breakdown of what the average visits may cost for each of their services on their website. Prices for those paying out-of-pocket:
- $82 for a common issue that might otherwise require an urgent care visit
- $108 for a counseling session
- $284 for a session with a psychiatrist
- $75 for a dermatology appointment.
All of these costs do depend on your insurance (meaning, they could be less!), and follow-up visits may vary in cost.
Doctor on Demand review
What is Doctor on Demand?
Doctor on Demand is a newer player on the telehealth field, having been founded in just 2012 . Doctor on Demand offers a one-stop option for care, covering urgent care visits, behavior, and preventative health, as well as treating chronic conditions.
Is Doctor on Demand covered by insurance?
Doctor on Demand is covered by most of the biggest insurance names out there, and offers employee discounts for people employed by many big-name businesses (such as Walmart). They do offer coverage for people who are uninsured as well, though prices are a bit higher. They are also included in Medicare Part B, as well as insurance provided by many businesses for their employees.
Can doctors on Doctor on Demand prescribe medications?
Doctor on Demand is able to prescribe medications, though they do not write prescriptions for narcotics, schedule drugs, or pain relief. However, they are able to send prescriptions for allergies, antibiotics, and other common ailments.
How much does an online doctor visit with Doctor on Demand cost?
As far as cost goes, the price may vary depending on your insurance, but you will see how much it will cost before the visit starts. Doctor on Demand does have flat-fee pricing for those not covered by insurance:
- $75 for a 15-minute consultation with an online medical doctor
- $129 for 25 minutes with a psychologist, or $179 for 50 minutes
- $299 for the initial 45-minute psychiatrist consultation, and an additional $129 for a 15-minute follow-up.
However, while on these calls, you will be given the opportunity to extend the call, for an additional cost.
What is PlushCare?
PlushCare was founded in 2013 and services its customers mostly through its app, which also allows for regular text conversation with your online doctors. A huge bonus to PlushCare is that all of its doctors are from the top 50 medical schools in the United States, so you can be sure you’re getting the best possible care.
What can a doctor on PlushCare treat?
A PlushCare online doctor can treat a variety of ailments, including:
- Urgent care issues
- Everyday concerns
- Mental health
- Ongoing chronic issues
Can doctors on PlushCare prescribe medications?
PlushCare’s online doctors can prescribe medication, though they are unable to provide narcotics or schedule drugs. Still, they have the ability to prescribe similar medicine not falling into these categories (for example, the online doctors cannot prescribe Xanax, but cannot prescribe other anti-anxiety medication).
What makes PlushCare different from other providers?
A main difference between PlushCare and other online doctor platforms is the membership fee structure, as well as insurance coverage.
PlushCare is covered by most Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Cigna & UnitedHealthcare plans. Outside of insurance, PlusCare online doctor access costs $99 per visit, along with a monthly membership fee of $9 per month.
What is Virtuwell?
Virtuwell is an online health services provider, founded in 2010. While other providers are staffed by board-certified online doctors, Virtuwell is staffed by board-certified nurse practitioners. The main difference between a medical doctor and a nurse practitioner is length of experience: MDs study for around 11 years, while a Master’s in Science of Nursing takes about 6 years. Nurse Practitioners also have separate licensing and certification requirements. Virtuwell’s nurse practitioners are licensed to:
- Diagnose and treat common illnesses
- Prescribe medications
- Obtain medical histories
- Perform assessments
- Screen and refer patients to specialists and other healthcare providers
- Counsel and teach about health and nutrition
However, it is not stated on the Virtuwell website (or in any reviews) whether they are HIPAA compliant or not.
How does Virtuwell work?
Virtuwell’s nurse practitioners can to diagnose, treat and prescribe medicine to help with common illnesses and maladies, such as:
- the flu
- skin issues
- children’s health
- ear and eye concerns
- sexual health
Is Virtuwell covered by insurance?
Virtuwell is able to charge through a long list of insurance providers (which you can find on their FAQ page), or you can pay by credit card. The base cost is $54, making it the least expensive option available compared with its competitors. However, it is worth noting that Virtuwell’s online nurse practitioners are not able to cover mental health concerns, such as depression or anxiety, nor are they staffed by psychologists or psychiatrists.
Another important note here is that Virtuwell only offers its services in 13 states currently, so you should double-check their FAQ to see if your state is covered.
What is LiveHealth?
LiveHealth is an online doctor service provider, founded in 2017. They offer medical and allergy support, as well as psychological and psychiatric assistance.
Can doctors on LiveHealth prescribe medications?
LiveHealth’s online doctors are able to prescribe non-narcotic medicine, along with a few notable exceptions: Gabapentin (unless prescribed by a LiveHealth’s psychiatrist), muscle relaxers, lifestyle drugs (think Viagra), weight-loss drugs or medicine including ephedrine or pseudoephedrine (such as Sudafed).
How does LiveHealth work?
Like its competitors, LiveHealth offers the ability to see a doctor through its app or online through a video visit. As far as medical visits go, LiveHealth’s online doctors are able to treat a variety of urgent-care conditions, such as the flu, headaches, or allergies. They do also have allergy specialists as well, who can treat a wide range of allergy-based symptoms.
How much does an online doctor visit with LiveHealth cost?
Furthermore, LiveHealth also offers therapy visits starting at just $80, or $95 for a visit with a psychiatrist, which is much less expensive than some of LiveHealth’s competitors. However, there can be a bit of a wait period for these services, ranging from a few days for a psychologist to up to two weeks for a psychiatrist.
Is LiveHealth covered by insurance?
LiveHealth is covered by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Empire Blue Cross Blue and Shield..
What is Amwell?
Amwell (formerly named American Well) is another online doctor service provider, founded in Boston back in 2009. Amell provides services not just to individuals, but to employers, health systems, and health insurance plans.
How does Amwell work?
Amwell offers a variety of services, including the usual urgent-care medical treatment, with therapy and psychiatry appointments,nutritional assistance, and women's health (including breastfeeding!). Amwell also provides access to online doctors that specialize in any number of areas, such as physical therapy or dermatology.
Amwell claims that through the health insurance they accept, they cover more than 80 million people.
How much does an online doctor visit with Amwell cost?
Costs, without insurance, are roughly average when compared to their competitors: an everyday, urgent-care visit costs $79. However, Amwell offers two prices for therapy, one at $99 for a meeting with a therapist that holds a master’s degree, and $110 for a therapist that holds a PhD. For a psychiatrist, the initial visit would cost $269, with follow up visits at just $99. Again, that’s without insurance, so your costs may vary.
What is HealthSapiens?
HealthSapiens is an online doctor provider, but is purely subscription-based, both for medical visits and therapy appointments. HealthSapiens also offers the option to cover up to six other family members.
How does HealthSapiens work?
HealthSapiens is split into two separate services: medical and counseling.
For medical coverage, HealthSapiens online doctors are able to treat a variety of urgent care issues, ranging from allergies to yeast infections to stomach aches. Doctors are on demand, so there’s no waiting to schedule an appointment time.
For counseling, HealthSapiens’ online doctors offer unlimited pre-clinical sessions, which are informal and not part of a treatment regimen. Instead, these sessions are for immediate support, problem-solving, and crisis management, such as relationship issues or having a bad day, all the way to diagnosis of depression or anxiety. In addition to these pre-clinical sessions, membership includes up to six monthly appointments with a Master’s level therapist.
However, an important thing to note is that HealthSapiens’ online therapists are unable to prescribe medication – they only offer therapy sessions, not prescription treatment. The length of therapy sessions vary, depending on what is deemed clinically appropriate for specific needs. HealthSapiens therapists can treat a range of mental illnesses, such as OCD, PTSD, grief and loss, anxiety and depression.
How much does an online doctor visit with HealthSapiens cost?
HealthSapies doesn’t work with health insurers
For the medical care, the fee is $19.95 per month (or $24.95 for the family plan), with the bonus of never having to pay a per-visit fee and being able to see a doctor whenever you want, To take advantage of HealthSapien’s counseling services, the monthly fee is $197, but again, there’s no per-visit fee, which is a stark difference when compared to other telehealth services that offer counseling or therapy.
What is MDVIP?
MDVIP is a VIP experience, with concierge medicine and concierge doctors. It allows for increased, personalized medical treatment, via phone, email, or messaging, and gives your doctors additional tools to treat you to the highest possible degree.
How does MDVIP work?
MDVIP assigns you one doctor that oversees your care, just as a primary physician would. Together, you and your doctor put together a plan in what’s called the MDVIP Wellness Program.
What programs does MDVIP offer?
The MDVIP Wellness Program claims to offer a broader, concierge range of care than a typical physician check up. This includes:
- Bone health
- Hearing assessment
- Sleep management
- Emotional well-being
- Exercise plan
- Meal plans, food shopping list and recipes
- Assurances for travel
- Arrange visits to local physicians in your area
- Discounts for Medjet air medical transport
How much does an online doctor visit with MDVIP cost?
The annual fee can range between $1,650 and $2,200, with quarterly, semi-annual and annual payment plans qualified for FSA and HSA.
Forward Healthcare review
What is Forward?
Forward Healthcare is focused on high-tech, online preventative care, though the monthly fee structure allows for real-time online concierge doctors visits, as well as in-person doctors visits with a physician near you.
How does Forward work?
Forward focuses on technology to help diagnose and prevent health care issues:
- Real-time bloodwork analysis
- Skin cancer scans
- Genetic analysis
- Biometric monitoring
Forward also uses this technology to create a multitude of charts, which allow both patients and doctors to monitor health concerns such as:
- Coronary health
- Testing and lab results
Another important difference is that Forward allows for both online, app-based visits as well as in-person visits, both unlimited and included with the monthly fee. Forward’s doctors can prescribe some medications, and even have a limited pharmacy on-site, allowing them to send prescriptions directly to you. First fills of prescriptions for blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, antibiotics and other similar medications are included in membership. All seasonal and travel vaccines and medications are included in your membership.
Other recurring medications unable to be filled on-site can be sent to your pharmacy, or directly to you. Prescriptions are coordinated through insurance, though visits are not.
How much does an online doctor visit with Forward cost?
Forward works on a monthly subscription basis of $149. However, Forward does not offer mental health treatment, counseling, or psychiatric assistance.
What is SteadyMD?
SteadyMD is an online concierge healthcare provider that prioritizes you and your time.SteadyMD claims to cut down on time and hassle by offering appointments with brief (SteadyMD claims 15 minutes) or no wait, near-immediate response over the app, and most importantly, consistency, because SteadyMD connects you with a doctor who, in their words, “gets you” based on their intake quiz. This personal physician is assigned to you throughout your SteadyMD membership. If that doctor is unavailable, another doctor could see you and have the same access to your medical history as your usual doctor.
How does SteadyMD work?
SteadyMD focuses on the connection and relationship between a patient and their doctor. SteadyMD connects you with a doctor that’s right for you after collecting medical information, personal needs, and other important aspects of your life. After an introductory hour-long video chat where you and the doctor get to know each other even better, you’re able to text, call or even video chat with your doctor any time, as much as you want.
SteadyMD doctors offer concierge medicine 24/7 round the clock, in all 50 states, for any number of medical issues, such as:
- chronic conditions
- urgent care needs
- women’s and men’s health issues
- preventative care (such as help to quit smoking)
- mood disorder screenings
They also are able to prescribe medication, though not opioids, narcotics, and other controlled substances.
What makes SteadyMD different from other providers?
SteadyMD offers constant communication with the same physician, versus competitors where you see whichever doctor may have availability when you need them. SteadyMD also makes use of tools you may already be using, such as MyFitness Pal, Nike Run Club, Garmin Connect, or Strava Running and Cycling, to get a fuller understanding of your weight, blood pressure, and vital signs. Furthermore, SteadyMD doctors can oversee medical care with specialists they can refer you to, or after the event of a medical emergency.
How much does an online doctor visit with SteadyMD cost?
SteadyMD offers monthly plans, for individuals ($99) and families ($178). Both plans include unlimited in-app messaging, and same-day phone call or video appointments with your personal physician. SteadyMD also offers functional medicine, which is a “deep dive” into the patient’s medical history from birth to present day, using gut microbiome, hormone, micronutrient, and other testing to study everything from sleep, exercise, diet and stress. This level of understanding can be especially helpful in the case of chronic conditions such as hyperthyroidism, stress management, blood pressure or Hashimoto’s. SteadyMD’s functional medicine is also subscription based, at $199 a month.
SteadyMD does not work with health insurers.
Frequently asked questions about talking with a doctor online
Can you talk to a doctor online?
Absolutely! You can see medical doctors, therapists, psychiatrists and specialists online easily, through one of many different providers. Most are able to go through health insurance as well.
– How do online doctor visits work?
While there is some variance based on the platform and the type of service you’re seeking, all online doctor visits function more or less the same way. You make an account online or through the service’s app, you enter your medical history (or go through an intake quiz), and then you either meet with a doctor or set up an appointment for a later date. Most platforms allow for phone calls, in-app messaging, or video-chats.
– How much is an online doctor visit?
Since there are so many options for services and providers, there isn’t one set base price, especially since most providers do take insurance, which varies person to person. Without insurance, basic medical coverage usually runs at around $100 or below, while therapy or a visit with a psychiatrist can be anywhere from $150 – $300. This does not include the cost of medication.
– Are online doctors any good?
Yes! While of course there’s no way to guarantee that every single doctor will be a perfect fit for every single person, online doctors are not in any way “less-than” traditional doctors.
– What is the best online doctor app?
Given the variety of services offered, and that everyone has different priorities when it comes to healthcare, there really is no “best”, though there is likely a “best for you”. It depends on what you’re looking for, whether it be quick and as-needed, or in-depth on-going care. It also depends on if you’re seeking physical or mental/emotional care, because not all providers offer both, or if they do, they offer them in different ways. It also depends on how much you can spend, and what kind of insurance you have (and if the provider accepts it). At the end of the day, finding the “best” online doctor app isn’t any more feasible than finding the “best” doctor; what’s best for someone else may not be best for you. And that’s okay! If one provider doesn’t work out, there are clearly many more options to choose from as you move along your healthcare journey.