There it is again. That pain in your side that comes and goes. Not sure what to do about it? How about talking about your symptoms with a health care professional from the comfort of your own couch?
Today, the doctor’s office isn’t the only place to go to get your medical questions answered. In fact, you may not need to go anywhere. Since convenience and options are important to many of us, most health plans offer choices on how and where to access medical information and care.
Phone lines staffed by nurses. Many health plans offer access to a telephone-based support line staffed 24/7 by registered nurses – often referred to as “24/7 nurse lines” or “nursing hotlines.” The nurses take note of your symptoms. Together, you can discuss next steps and there is typically no additional charge to use this service.
Online or “virtual” office visits. Some Medicare plans allow you to visit with your doctor without leaving your living room. The clinician uses a computer or mobile device with a camera to see and talk with you. These visits sometimes even allow physicians to bring in specialists, also by computer, if needed. While in-office visits may still be the best options when it comes to serious illnesses, virtual visits work well for follow-ups and for more common illnesses and injuries like colds, flu, rashes, etc. In some states, online doctors can write and submit prescriptions after a virtual consultation. If covered, these visits may be subject to a copay or coinsurance.
In-home visits by a health practitioner. You may remember the days when doctors made home visits. Today’s in-home clinicians are often nurse practitioners (NPs) or physician assistants (PAs) who spend 45 to 60 minutes with each patient. They review your health history and current medications, perform a physical exam, offer health education and coordinate care with your primary care provider. The visit allows the health practitioner to spend a great deal of time with you in an environment where you are comfortable. They are so popular that UnitedHealthcare’s HouseCalls program recently completed its 5 millionth home visit.
These care options are not just convenient, they can also save lives. A simple urine test that Paul Engwall completed during his first HouseCalls visit led to the discovery of an abdominal aortic aneurysm that was nearing rupture. “There is no doubt in my mind that Paul’s HouseCalls visit very likely saved his life,” said his wife, Lorna. “Now we tell everyone we know about this program; we are so grateful.”
So the next time you want to speak with someone about a medical issue, pick up your phone or tablet, get comfortable and dial up the personalized support you want.
To find a UnitedHealthcare plan that offers these services, visit UHCMedicareSolutions.com.
Plans are insured through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliated companies. For Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans: A Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract and a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor. Enrollment in these plans depends on the plan’s contract renewal with Medicare.