Aetna, Inc. and Cigna Corp, two of the nation’s largest health insurance companies, recently announce they will begin paying for physician visits conducted over the Internet. Yes, you can visit your doctor via the Web in the form of a virtual office visit, and your insurance will pay for it (if you are a member of one of these health insurance companies and your plan covers this service, of course).
Aetna recently expanded a pilot program nationally from three initial states. The most common method of Web visits currently used is email correspondence. But even that is used very rarely. In a recent survey of California residents, only 4 percent of respondents indicated they have consulted with a physician via email.
The service is most likely to appeal to those looking for convenience, not necessarily cost savings. While Aetna pays its providers $25-$35 for a Web visit and $35-$100 for an office visit, patients will most likely have the same copayment for both services.
Technology to the rescue once again.