Dear E B on Stretching Health Dollars with Telemedicine

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Dear E B on Stretching Health Dollars with Telemedicine
Calendar22 December 2015

This post is part of our “Dear E.B.” series, in which Mercer’s very own advice columnist (“E.B.,” for Employee Benefits) responds to questions concerning health and well-being that are on the minds of employees across the country.

Dear E.B.,

I enrolled in a high-deductible plan with a Health Savings Account last year because it had the lowest paycheck deduction. My employer contributes money to the account and I was hoping I could save some of it for dental work I need, maybe a couple of years down the road. But my three-year-old gets ear infections and my husband has chronic allergies. After 4 visits to the pediatrician for antibiotics for her, and a trip to the ER for him, we used up the HSA money and then some. How will I ever get ahead?

Feeling Stretched

Dear Stretched,

I have a suggestion for you. Your employer offers a telemedicine program. That might help you save on visits to the pediatrician for your daughter’s ear infections. A typical office visit is about $100, but a telemedicine visit is only $40. You have the convenience of not leaving your house and dealing with a fussy child at the doctor’s office. You simply access the telemedicine program via phone or video, and your daughter can be seen by a licensed provider in as little as a few minutes. The provider can also call in a prescription to the pharmacy of your choice and hopefully your child is quickly on the mend!

As for your husband, if his allergies are causing cold-like symptoms, the ER is probably not the best place of service for him. He’s likely experienced long wait times and a hefty ER bill to boot. Telemedicine would also be a better option for him for the same reasons as for your daughter: being treated quickly while staying in the comfort of home and paying a nominal amount for the visit. For the longer term, though, your husband should find a Primary Care Physician that can monitor his condition and perhaps help him with a preventive medication regimen. Good luck and health to you all!

Advice by Eva Carlson in Mercer’s Washington, D.C. office

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