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Online doctors, whose services are often referred to as telemedicine or telehealth, are a convenient and accessible way for patients to receive non-emergency medical care from the comfort of their own home. With the rise of technology and the internet, online doctors have become increasingly popular as a way for people to receive healthcare services without having to physically visit a doctor's office.
This is also a great option for people who live in remote areas, have mobility issues, or have difficulty taking time off work to visit a doctor's office. Telemedicine is often the most convenient option for people who are looking for a more private and comfortable setting to discuss sensitive health issues.
Saturday, March 25th
Sesame calls itself "America's only superstore for great doctors and specialists" . Over 100,000 patients have already used this online doctor service since it got started just a few years ago, saving them more than $3 million over what they would have paid without the service.
Exceptional range of specialties and doctors
We're impressed with the range of concerns you can address and the specialists you can connect with on this platform, with over 10,000 doctors in the system treating 120+ conditions and practicing in more than 80 specialties. You can even search for a provider that way. Whether you're looking for an online doctor to help you manage your asthma or you think you might have an ear infection, Sesame stands at the ready.
See appointments available right now - online or local
Compared with other online doctor platforms, Sesame has some noteworthy advantages. The biggest is that you can schedule appointments right on the platform with the doctor of your choice, either via telehealth or in-person with a doctor in your area (just make sure that your browser has accurately detected your location, indicated in the upper right corner of the site). Under the Telehealth visit header, there's a toggle if you need to see someone within the next two hours.
See all the doctors
You'll see a range of information for each doctor, including
Click on any provider to see detailed information about their bedside manner, wait time, credentials, and sometimes even an extensive "About Me" that lets you really get a great feel when deciding if they're the right online doctor for you.
See exactly what it will cost
You'll also see exactly what the visit is going to cost. Sesame is legitimately available to everyone: with or without insurance, and with or without a Sesame Plus membership. While you won't be able to use your health insurance to pay for your visit here, your insurer might reimburse some of your Sesame costs as an out-of-network expense and Sesame will give you the paperwork you need to give that a try. Otherwise, you can pay per visit on Sesame, with most appointments starting at $36. If you expect to use Sesame more regularly, consider the $8.25/month Sesame Plus membership: it'll drop your per-visit cost to as low as $14, and you'll get perks like a dedicated care team and some free labs when you choose an annual payment plan.
Patients get high-quality care here
Sesame gets really positive feedback overall. The Better Business Bureau has given this online doctor platform an "A+" rating and accreditation, and there were only a dozen complaints filed there in the three years prior to this review. Looking elsewhere, client ratings range between 4.3 and 4.8 stars out of 5, with most comments saying that their Sesame doctor was patient and thorough, and that the entire experience was fast, affordable, and hassle-free.
All customer issues dealt with
A small number of customers have given Sesame a lower-than-average rating. Some of these complaints had to do with refund issues or being matched with a provider who couldn't treat the condition being presented. However, we were pleased to see that all of these problems received a professional, appropriately-concerned response and feel confident that they were eventually resolved (hence the perfect rating with the BBB).
That same warm-fuzzy feedback that Sesame gets as an overall service is reflected in the ratings for its providers. As we scrolled through both telehealth and in-person doctors, nurses, and other specialists, it was easy to spot providers with near-perfect averages across hundreds of reviews: an APRN practicing family medicine (4.9/5 stars, 514 reviews), a PA practicing adult medicine (4.8/5 stars, 778 reviews), you get the idea.
#1 pick for online doctors
Sesame gets our highest recommendation among websites offering access to doctors online. This truly is medical care for everyone, with shockingly affordable pricing even for specialist appointments and the ability to pick the doctor that feels like your best match. Whether you need acute care or to develop a long-term relationship with a medical professional, we recommend that you consider Sesame first. The online doctors on this platform earn our first-place ranking.
Web Doctors is one of the best ways to see a doctor online if you've got a common, day-to-day medical problem and you don't want the hassle or expense of going to urgent care or the ER. For patients ages 2 and up, this service can be used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for everything from upper respiratory tract infections to poison ivy, ear infections to pink eye, you name it. Web Doctors accepts all major insurance plans, but you can just as easily use the platform without any healthcare coverage.
Fees based on phone vs. video visits
You'll always know exactly what your visit will cost through Web Doctors. Although this is an online platform, having a video consultation comes at a premium: the pricing you'll see as "starts at" represents a routine phone call. The typical wait time is about an hour, but you can upgrade to VIP Priority if you need a callback within 30 minutes (for example, if your local pharmacy is closing soon or you're about to catch a flight). That ups your "starts at" cost to $79.95. Finally, if you prefer to "meet" face-to-face with your doctor online, or the condition troubling you is best diagnosed visually, you'll want to opt for the video consultation (starting at $89.95).
Learn more or get started right away
For any listed condition - tooth infection, sore throat, erectile dysfunction, herpes, and so on - you can click on "learn more" or "consult now" . Select the first one if you need more details about the condition or how a Web Doctor will address the issue during your visit. Otherwise, you can get your consultation moving right away: you'll be asked to check off a list of symptoms, but you can also upload a photo (such as a rash or swelling) and/or type in any additional information you'd like the physician to know about your condition.
Excellent medical care - but site could use some work
We found a few typos on the Web Doctors site that were off-putting, like "unable to swollow" and "how do it works" . Fortunately, that lack of professionalism seems to be limited to the platform itself and doesn't affect the quality of the care received. We found over 7,500 five-star reviews for Web Doctors, and particularly impressive are the ones coming from medical professionals: they know their symptoms and what's needed but can't self-prescribe, and they say that their Web Doctors appointments were right on time, medically accurate, and affordable. People say they often receive a callback within 15 minutes (even when just paying the "routine" price) and have a prescription ready for pickup - when appropriate - within an hour or two.
Online doctors now
Web Doctors is exactly what many people have in mind when they search for "doctor online now" . You've got something bothering you and you can't get into your regular doctor? This is the service for you. Don't want to sit in a waiting room with a bunch of sick people when you're pretty sure your problem is related to seasonal allergies? Done and dusted. It's Christmas and you don't want to spend it in the ER for an ear infection? You got the idea.
Excellent choice for acute care
Web Doctors is a great way to find an online doctor. While you'll need to find a different telemedicine platform if you want primary care services (annual checkups, screenings, and so on) Web Doctors is one of our all-time favorites for those times where you've got something relatively minor going on and you want it addressed ASAP.
Lemonaid Health got its start in San Francisco in 2013, founded with the goal of bringing affordable, convenient healthcare to Americans nationwide. Since then, hundreds of thousands of patients have been able to access the care they need from the comfort of their own homes.
Best for patients who don't want to use insurance
If you've got insurance and you're looking for an online doctor where you can use those benefits, Lemonaid probably isn't the right option for you. There are no insurance plans accepted here, so everything will be out of pocket. On the other hand, for the many uninsured (or under-insured) people in the US, Lemonaid could be the ideal fit for everything from basic primary care to birth control and treatment for depression.
So, what will you pay? Lemonaid charges a flat fee of $99/month for individuals or $178/month for couples/families. You'll receive unlimited virtual care from the same physician, and doctors on this platform average just 600 patients in all - so you can trust that your doctor will get to know you as a person and not just a case file. Once you've completed the Lemonaid application, you'll be matched with a doctor and have a one-hour video chat to get to know one another and to develop a plan for your health management and monitoring. Although it can take up to two days to get an appointment, you can call, text, or video chat with your doctor at any time and the conversation will pick up where it left off previously.
Comprehensive primary care
What kinds of conditions can be addressed with your Lemonaid doctor? The list is long, and includes (but isn't limited to) the following:
Anxiety and depression
You can receive help for anxiety and depression through Lemonaid. However, their requrements and costs are a little different than their other services.
Clients love Lemonaid Health
Lemonaid has earned an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, with just 11 complaints filed there in the three years leading up to this evaluation. Customer reviews in other places line up with the BBB's perspective: in one place, across nearly 1,500 ratings, Lemonaid averaged an impressive 4.9 out of 5 stars average, with 96% of clients giving this online doctor platform a perfect score. People describe their experience as hassle-free, the online visits as friendly-yet-direct when getting down to what's needed, and as being beyond easy to get the prescriptions they need delivered right to their door.
Great option if you don't have health insurance
While Lemonaid isn't going to be the ideal fit for every patient, especially those with insurance coverage or who need an immediate appointment to address an acute health condition (like an ear infection), it's one of our favorite resources for connecting with an online doctor for anyone who doesn't have easy access to medical care. The convenience and level of care here are exceptional, and it's an affordable way to get some of the most frequently-prescribed medications such as birth control and antidepressants. Definitely take a look at Lemonaid Health if you need options that go above and beyond traditional healthcare coverage.
PlushCare started as a two-man operation: founder Dr. James Wantuck saw patients via video while co-founder Ryan McQuad handled the phones and appointments. In the years since then, this online doctor service has grown to include a team of 100+ physicians drawn from the top 50 US medical institutions - with an average of 15 years of experience. Over 550,000 patients have benefited from the telemedicine services offered through PlushCare.
Good doctor availability
PlushCare offers good availability for their doctors. Most can be seen within a day or two. This is great if you're using the service for a primary care checkup or to followup on something not so urgent. If you have something more serious - say, if you've been suffering with a sinus infection for days and it's become unbearable - PlushCare offers same-day appointments as well. We thought it was interesting that PlushCare says they're available 360 days a year - so there may be a few days out of the year when their doctors just arent' available (likely holidays such as Christmas or New Year's Day).
See doctors you can choose - with limited selection
When we used the platform, it was easy to find out what doctors were available and at what times, without having to create an account or enter any personal information. This is a great way for you to see the doctor availability in your specific area before signing up. We were able to schedule a same-day appointment within an hour and choose the doctor we preferred. You also easily see the patient ratings for each doctor to help guide you in choosing the best one for your needs.
Costs are affordable
What does it cost to use PlushCare? That depends on whether or not you'll be using health insurance benefits. The good news is that they're in network with most major health insurance plans, so you could have copays ranging from $0 to $30 (on average). That's super-affordable. Without insurance, you can expect to pay $129 for your first visit and $69 for follow-up appointments. Still, that's not so bad. Keep in mind that both insured and uninsured patients also pay a PlushCare membership to use the platform. That comes in at $14.99/month (or $99/year for an annual membership) and gives members access to unlimited in-app messaging with the online care team, free membership for the rest of the family, discounts on lab tests, and so on.
Acute care and primary care
What services can you access through PlushCare? They range from the basics of general health and preventative care to urgent care for illnesses and sexual health care (like birth control, PrEP for HIV, and erectile dysfunction). However, you might not get access to specialists here. We didn't get to indicate what condition we were trying to treat when booking an appointment, and all of the doctors in our results list seemed to be general practitioners.
Mental health services
You can also access PlushCare's online therapy and mental health medications. These services have their own fee structure, and you can expect to pay $169/visit for their online therapy programs (which may be more expensive than your local providers). On the plus side, prescriptions can be written for most conditions; you can have them sent to your local pharmacy and pay for them with or without insurance.
Decent grade from the BBB
The company earned a "B" rating from the Better Business Bureau for having almost 100 complaints filed over the last three years. That's really not that bad, considering they've helped over 550,000 patients. Some of their rival companies have far more complaints that that and somehow came out with a higher BBB grade.
What we noticed in the customer complaints were two patterns. One type came from people who didn't realize that there was a monthly membership fee (but that's on them, because it's mentioned repeatedly throughout the site and in the sign-up documents). The other type came from patients who had problems with prescriptions and insurance benefits. Insurance companies have been slow to react to online doctors prescribing medicine, and this has caused patient issues (and not just with PlushCare). We don't necessarily consider either of these issues a reflection on the quality of service that PlushCare provides.
On the Apple App Store, you'll find lots of PlushCare fans. On that platform, their ratings average 4.9 out of 5 stars across 83K reviews. Android users also give it high marks, averaging 4/5 stars (but with only 5K ratings). Looking at other customer reviews, the service gets really big praise for working as promised with an occasional criticism for delays on test results or medications (typically tied to an insurance company).
PlushCare provides quick and convenient access to online doctors when you need it. They can handle patients whether they have health insurance or not. Most of the time, you can even schedule and see a doctor the same day you make the appointment. They do charge a monthly membership fee for their service, but they also give you a 30-day trial period to see if their program will work for you. And, their online app earns rave reviews - especially from iPhone users. If you're looking for access to online doctors, PlushCare is a strong choice to consider.
HealthTap thinks that everyone deserves access to primary care and urgent care that's easy to use and affordable too. There's almost no concern or condition that can't be addressed through this service, even if you don't have insurance or choose a HealthTap membership.
Get to know the online doctors in advance
You can preview some of the HealthTap doctors available in your state right when you visit the site for the first time (or anytime). We appreciate that this platform makes it possible to see details on any of its 90,000+ doctors before even creating an account. You can view reviews (some of the physicians on HealthTap have over 8,000 five-star ratings), see how much experience the provider has and where they're located, read a brief biography, even see some of their answers in HealthTap's Q&A database. There's also a video greeting you can play to get a feel for how the doctor interacts with patients. When you're ready, you can schedule an appointment whenever your chosen doctor has availability, right through the app or browser.
Visits are less expensive with a membership
You've got two ways to access online doctors through HealthTap: pay-as-you-go for urgent care, priced at $99 per visit, or with a membership that costs $45/quarter with per-visit fees of $39 (primary care) and $59 (urgent care). Either route you choose, you can see if your HealthTap visit fees will be covered as an out-of-network provider through any healthcare coverage you currently have. If you opt for the membership plan, you'll get access to unlimited texting with the doctor of your choice for primary care services that include men's health, women's health, children's health, senior health, wellness/prevention/lifestyle changes, sexual health, travel medicine, and mental/behavioral health. Both plans also give you access to an extensive Q&A database; find answers to your concerns there or ask your own question, and you'll always get an answer from a board certified physician.
Limitations on mental health services
While HealthTap includes mental and behavioral health in its "what we treat" list, there are some limitations you should be aware of. You'll be scheduled to speak with a primary care doctor if you want to talk about depression, sleep issues, school or work stress. That doctor will not be able to prescribe many of the medications often used within the mental health field, like lithium or Xanax. If you're looking for online therapy, HealthTap will refer you to a third-party partner, and you'll have to pay separately for that service.
Most patients are very satisfied
We were pleased to see that HealthTap has an "A+" rating with the BBB and only three complaints filed there in the last three years. Feedback elsewhere varies. In one place we looked, the service only averaged 2.4 out of 5 stars. Complaints ranged from billing issues (like being charged twice for the same service and having to dispute it with the credit card company instead of being offered a refund) to receiving poor care from the doctor. On the other hand, when you look at HealthTap's reputation on the Google/Apple app stores, that average rating jumps to 4.6 or 4.7 out of 5 stars, across a total of more than 20,000 reviews. Comments there are much more appreciative of the service, praising its affordability, the ease and speed with which patients can connect with doctors and get thorough and friendly treatment, and so on.
Solid choice for finding an online doctor
All things considered, HealthTap is an excellent resource for working with a doctor online, whether you just need a one-time visit for a sinus infection or you want to build an ongoing relationship to manage your overall wellness. This service is extremely easy to use, and the positive feedback far outweighs the complaints. HealthTap is a telehealth provider worth considering.
Teladoc has been around for more than two decades and is one of the most frequently-offered telehealth services through employers and health insurers. You could potentially pay nothing for an online doctor visit here if it's part of your coverage.
Primary and acute care are both available
Teladoc's services can be used 24/7 for non-emergency conditions, for both adults and children. This includes common issues like allergies, cold/flu, sinus infections, stomachaches, and so on. People age 18+ can also use Teladoc for primary care: routine checkups, ongoing wellness needs, and referrals. Adolescents and adults are both eligible for mental health visits. Other specialist options include nutrition, tobacco cessation, and sexual health.
Could be more open with costs
We wish that Teladoc were a little more upfront with its pricing. While we understand that copays will always vary depending on the insurer and the coverage, there could be a lot more transparency for anyone thinking of working with one of their online doctors without using a health insurance benefit. Teladoc only tells prospective patients that a general medical visit will cost $75; to get a dermatology review, mental health visit, nutrition visit, or to participate in the back and joint program, you'll have to set up an account and get your cost disclosed then. That's definitely not as straightforward as many of Teladoc's rivals.
Can't choose your doctor
Another downside is not being able to choose your doctor when you use this service. You'll be assigned a provider that's available that's qualified to treat the condition you're presenting, and that can be hit-or-miss. Some people really love the doctor they get matched with, while others have felt like the practitioner just rushed through the appointment and didn't listen to their concerns very closely.
Used successfully by hundreds of thousands
But, there are still plenty of good reasons to use Teladoc for your virtual healthcare visits. Just check out this service's ratings on the two different app stores (Google/Apple) and you'll see fantastic feedback: 4.8 stars out of 5 across over 400K ratings on one, 4.1 stars out of 5 across 56K ratings on the other. It's worth pointing out that more people on the Android platform complain about the app being buggy, though, especially in the reviews left in the weeks just prior to our evaluation - keep that in mind if you plan on using this service primarily through the app and you don't have an iPhone. Also, this service has an "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau, and we found thousands of five-star ratings outside of the BBB and the two app platforms.
Not bad if you get it as a benefit
If you can access Teladoc for free (or at low cost) as an employer or health insurance benefit, we say go for it. Hundreds of thousands of people have relied on this platform to work with an online doctor instead of going to someone locally or paying high costs at urgent care. But, if you're pretty sure you'll be paying out of pocket, we encourage you to take a look at Teladoc's higher-ranked competitors: you'll probably spend less for the same care, and you might get extra benefits (like being able to select a doctor instead of having one assigned).
More than 60 million people have MDLIVE as part of their health insurance benefits. Whether you have healthcare coverage or not, you can use this online doctor service to get urgent care for patients of all ages, as well as mental health and dermatology appointments for adults. Insured patients have the added perk of accessing primary care for routine checkups and screenings (ages 18+).
Fees not disclosed until just before booking
It's tricky to know in advance what you'll pay for your MDLIVE visit, especially if you don't have insurance. You can click on the "What It Costs" link at the bottom of the site if you want to see the range you can expect: $0-$82 for urgent care, $0-$95 for dermatology, $0-$108 for mental health therapy, and $0-$284 for psychiatry. If that sounds reasonable, you can create a free account, enter any insurance information, and then you should see your final cost displayed before you book an appointment with the online doctor of your choice.
Urgent care available too
You can also get into the queue for urgent care instead of making an appointment. This includes conditions like headaches, pink eye, sinus problems, yeast infections, cough, COVID-19, allergies, and more. Urgent care can also be used to get a prescription for birth control pills; just be aware that the service is only available to women between the ages of 18-45 who are not currently pregnant and who have had a normal blood pressure reading within the last six months.
Where's the doctor?
MDLIVE earned an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, despite receiving over 100 complaints in the last three years. We found nearly 10,000 five-star reviews from satisfied patients on one non-BBB site, plus tens of thousands of favorable ratings on both mobile app stores. But, looking at the comments left within a few weeks of this evaluation, every single one of them was just one star. People complained that even after making an appointment, they waited on hold for an hour and then never got connected to an online doctor, or that it took multiple phone calls to finally speak with a physician. Others patients said the doctor told them that he or she couldn't provide help for their symptoms - but the customer was still charged fees of $80 or more.
Your insurance may not pay out
Another big issue we saw mentioned repeatedly is that MDLIVE doesn't necessarily "play nice" with your healthcare insurance, even if you've been told that it's an included benefit. More than one complaint referenced being told that they could use this online doctor platform at no cost or at the usual copay amount, only to find out later that they had to pay the same fees as an uninsured customer.
Not highly recommended
We don't recommend using MDLIVE if you don't have health insurance. It's going to be much costlier than our higher-ranked platforms for connecting with an online doctor. And, even if you have insurance, we'd advise you to use MDLIVE with caution: too many people report having issues with even seeing a doctor to begin with, and then with billing issues specifically regarding insurance benefits. You've got other options available, and we'd strongly suggest that you look at them before using MDLIVE.
Doctor On Demand was founded in 2013 and is part of the Included Health brand family. Through this platform, you can access 24/7 virtual healthcare for both mind and body: services include urgent and preventative care, primary and chronic care, as well as mental health needs from counseling to psychiatry.
A few exceptions to treatable conditions
Even with everything you can address through Doctor On Demand, there's a list of conditions that they don't treat. These include:
Get in line for urgent care; make an appointment otherwise
Once you've created an account ( through the app or a browser), you can either set an appointment or get in the virtual line to see the next available clinician on demand. That only applies for medical needs; if you're looking for mental health services, those do require an appointment in advance through the self-scheduling feature on the platform.
You won't know your costs until you sign up
What will it cost for an online appointment with a doctor here? That will depend on the usual factors of whether or not your insurance is accepted (or your employer provides access as a benefit) and what type of service you're using. Doctor On Demand recommends that you download their app, register and create your account, add your insurance information, and see what your costs will be. But, generally speaking for those without insurance, you can expect to pay the following fees:
Some serious issues with patient care and billing
Feedback for Doctor On Demand is a mixed bag. On the one hand, the service has a somewhat mediocre "B" rating from the Better Business Bureau, with no accreditation and 100+ complaints filed in the last 12 months. While the company responded to all but one of them, and their ability to answer with concrete details is limited by privacy laws, we were still bothered by the nature of some of the problems being reported. Some of these issues include repeated cancellations from a psychiatrist while a patient was being stepped down from a medication with serious potential withdrawal effects, fees being charged and then the doctor saying they're not qualified to see the patient for their particular visit type, and so on. We found many similar complaints beyond the BBB, in other places where patients have left their comments.
On the other hand, when you look at the 100,000+ ratings for the Doctor On Demand app in the Apple Store, it backs the company's claim to have an average of 4.9 stars out of 5 (as well as a 4.8-star average across 62,000+ reviews on Google Play). Especially for people who are able to use the service for free through insurance, they tend to be happy with their online doctor - or, at least, that's how it used to be.
...but most from several years ago
We noticed that there were more five-star ratings from several years ago than from the last six months or so. Whether clients are trying to use the app or to connect through a browser on their laptop, they report connection issues even after waiting hours in the virtual queue to see a provider - with no way to reconnect and finish the visit, they're billed for an incomplete appointment and then have to make another one, often days later (or longer).
Better options are out there
Doctor On Demand has too many issues for us to ignore. You'll pay more here, possibly get less for it, and you may not get the continuity of care you need for time-sensitive issues (like being put on/off medications with side effects in either direction). This isn't the absolute worst online doctor platform we've ever seen, but we certainly think there are other choices that would give you more for your time and money.
LiveHealth Online is pretty straightforward. You don't have to pay for a membership to talk to a doctor online about basic health concerns like diarrhea, back pain, migraines, and so on - any time of day or night. All medical visits cost just $59, with slightly higher per-appointment costs if you want to use the service for mental health treatments (you'll pay more for a psychiatrist than for a therapist). While you can use health insurance to pay for your LiveHealth fees, the plans accepted here are limited to just a few and most people won't qualify.
Mostly general practitioners here
Another limitation with LiveHealth Online is the absence of most specialists. Although you can use this platform to work with a doctor on allergies and mental health concerns, most of the practitioners here specialize strictly in general/family practice. You can see a few examples on the LiveHealth page, but to actually see which doctors are available and learn more about who you might choose, you'll have to create an account. That's a drawback compared with most of the select-your-doctor telemedicine services we looked at, because they let you see almost everything you could want to know before you even sign up for a visit.
Visit always start at $59
On the other hand, LiveHealth Online doesn't take any credit card information when you create your account. And, there are no monthly membership fees here: you'll always know what you're going to pay for your online doctor visit beforehand, starting at that $59 price we mentioned earlier.
Service seems to be declining
We're baffled why LiveHealth Online "ranks highest in telehealth satisfaction" (according to the J.D. Power award prominently featured on the site) when the service gets such horrible reviews. While the company was still too new to have a rating from the Better Business Bureau at the time of this evaluation, there were hundreds of one-star ratings left in the months leading up to our review. Complaint after complaint mentions waiting hours to meet with a doctor online, only to have the appointment canceled - and often with the patients still billed as if they'd had the visit.
High customer ratings... if you look several years back
That's in stark contrast to the thousands of user reviews on the Google Play and Apple app stores that give LiveHealth Online a perfect five stars (with a 4.9/5 star average for iOs and 4.4/5 star average for Android). But, the majority of those ratings were several years old: the newer the review, the more likely it was to be negative.
Look at better options for online doctors
LiveHealth Online falls short in several ways. We like the idea of getting acute care for $59 with no membership fees or other requirements, but that only works if you're actually able to connect with a doctor - and this platform's more recent feedback makes it sound like that's a big trouble area. Anyone wanting to use their insurance to cover their visit fees will probably be out of luck, with only a few select plans from an even smaller number of insurers accepted as in-network here. You've got other options for acute care, and you'll absolutely have to turn to a different service for primary care or specialists. LiveHealth Online gets a "no" vote from us.
Forward takes a drastically different approach to telemedicine: this is no "quick visit for a nasty cold" online service. Instead, you sign up as a member to access both in-person and virtual physicians nationwide, and your Forward doctor will begin the process of helping you assess your everyday and chronic health needs, so that you can work together to minimize any long-term health risks.
Several steps to a thorough plan for your wellness
So, how does it work? When you become a member (PS: you can take the "Am I a Candidate?" screener on the main page to see if you'll qualify to join), you'll walk through several steps designed to create and implement a comprehensive healthcare plan. These steps include:
Costly membership fees - with a 6-month minimum
You'll pay $149/month for Forward's service (though there was a promotion in place at the time of this review that brought it down to $99/month). You also have to make a minimum commitment of six months on the program, so that you have enough time to gather all of the testing data and actually see progress.
Lots of benefits for one fee
That might sound like a lot of money, but the list of what's included for your membership fee - with no copays or deductibles - is quite extensive, beyond what we listed in the four steps above. You can get vaccines (flu, COVID-19, HPV), some basic medications that they keep in stock and can ship directly to you (including antibiotics when you get a sinus infection, for example), even in-home lab draws. You may have to pay extra when Forward has to send your tests to an external lab for processing, but they'll advise you in advance. If you are using Forward in conjunction with traditional insurance, such labs may be covered by your plan, as well as any prescriptions not included in your membership.
In-person locations may not be available near you
Depending on where you live, you may be able to access in-person visits along with your telemedicine appointments. At the time of this review, there were only a handful of physical Forward locations (many of which were designated as "coming soon" ):
Low customer ratings
We're not sure why the Better Business Bureau gives Forward a "B+" rating. The company only has nine complaints registered there in the last three years, all of which received a response from the business., so that's good. But their customer reviews tell a different story, particularly on the Apple and Google app stores. While most of Forward's competition tends to score really well on both platforms, this service is the opposite: barely hitting a 3.4 stars out of 5 on Android and a much lower 2.6 out of 5 on iOs.
Patients not getting what they pay for
For years, customers have been complaining that the app is glitchy and frequently so, leaving them completely unable to access their Forward membership virtually. There's no way to use Forward through a laptop browser, so a non-functioning app eliminates almost all of the care you're paying for - or 100% of it if you don't yet have an in-person Forward location near you. In fact, the people who love Forward enough to tweet about it (what you'll see when you click on Reviews on the site) almost always have access to Forward through an established in-person location and don't rely on the app to deliver their healthcare.
Very limited appeal
While we're all for delivering medicine the way Forward offers and feel that this meets a need that often goes unmet (comprehensive testing that leads to data-driven primary care with flat-fee monthly pricing), it's not going to be the right choice for a lot of people looking to see a doctor online. Urgent care? No. One-off visits? No. Mental health counseling? No. You get the idea. Add to that the frequent issues with the app, and you'll see why Forward is at the bottom of our list.
Better options for online doctors elsewhere
If you want to transform your health by meeting regularly with a doctor in-person or online and you're willing to pay $149 monthly for at least six months, check out Forward. But, if you need any of those other forms of treatment, we encourage you to check out the other highly-rated telehealth options in our evaluation.
Online doctors can provide many of the same services as in-person doctors, including regular check-ups, diagnosing and treating illnesses, and prescribing medication. They can also provide mental health services, such as therapy and counseling, through telehealth platforms. However, it's important to note that some conditions may require in-person evaluation and treatment, and in such cases, it is best to consult with a doctor near you.
Just remember, if at any time you're having a medical emergency it's important to call 911. Telemedicine is not intended for crisis situations or life threatening conditions.
When looking for an online doctor, you should make sure they are licensed in your state and check their credentials. You can also look at reviews from other patients. Additionally, it's essential to check your insurance coverage, since some insurance plans cover telemedicine, while others may have additional out-of-pocket costs.
During an online doctor appointment, you will typically have a video or phone call with the doctor, during which you will discuss your symptoms and medical history. The doctor will then make a diagnosis and provide treatment recommendations. If needed, the doctor can also prescribe medication, which can be filled at your local pharmacy.
While online doctors can provide many benefits, there are also some limitations to keep in mind. For example, online doctors may not be able to perform physical examinations, such as taking blood pressure or listening to your heart, which can be extremely important for diagnosis and treatment. Additionally, some medical conditions may require specialized testing, such as imaging or lab work, which cannot be performed remotely.
So, now that you understand more of what telemedicine is and what online doctors can and can't do for you, how do you choose which service is right for your medical needs? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
To help you get the medical care you need from the convenience of your own home (or anywhere), Top Consumer Reviews has evaluated and ranked today's most popular online doctors. We're sure this information will make it quick and easy to find the right one to get you taken care of, from sniffles to sprains and everything in between. Get well soon!
Select any 2 Online Doctors to compare them head to head
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