America spends over $3.8 trillion a year on healthcare (2019)—and more per capita than any other country in the world, despite that our life expectancy is 76.1 years at birth – the lowest level since 1996. BTW South Korea boosts 83.5! So you will not be surprised as you read on – more spending!
Amazon Has A Plan For Your Healthcare
Amazon continues inroads in healthcare delivery with a stated objective to make medical care more affordable. It had launched and closed down recently a healthcare project targeting corporations (in 2021, after 3 years). So now they will go directly to patients, not insurance billing. You pick from a list of conditions and then choose from a list of providers. As expected there is a questionnaire to complete. You will use a non-video message-based portal to contact a licensed physician for consultation. Encounters may even end in prescriptions!
So they present this as a healthcare store allowing customers to hook up with someone in a telehealth network. The cost starts at $30.00. Again convenience and accessibility are what is being ‘sold’. At this time, Amazon has not given specifics about the medical providers they will use, however it is well known that Amazon has an existing relationship with Teladoc©, the biggest virtual care company in the U.S. Even Alexa™ has Teledoc integrated!
Another New Healthcare Trend
Elsewhere, the Cleveland Clinic says it will start to charge as much as $50.00 for messages in ‘My Chart‘™. patient portals when a message requires physician time and opinion. Up to now, this has been a free interaction. Relax, as refills requests, making appointments, and informing your physician of a healthcare update are still gratis. But you will see a bill if there is a medication change needed or forms to be completed. Note the fine print in your plan, some healthcare plans do not cover messaging. Cleveland Clinic plans to bill insurance companies for any interaction requiring five or more minutes of the medical provider’s time. Medicare patients with secondary insurance will not have co-pays, but some Medicare beneficiaries may see a $3 to $8 fee. Some privately insured patients will not have a copay, but if they have a deductible or their plan doesn’t cover messaging, bills might be $33 to $50 per message.
Thankfully patient portals have circumvented the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 aka HIPAA concerns. You may recall one of the many papers you sign anytime you receive any healthcare. This law exists to ensure patient information privacy.
Well, it was great while it lasted but now everyone wants in!