Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune (registration required) has an interesting article on e-visits to the physician’s office and a new trend for some insurers to begin covering them.
Some of Minnesota’s largest health care providers, including HealthPartners and Blue Cross and Blue Shield, are beginning to cover e-visits between doctors and patients, an unusual step nationally and an attempt in part to contain exploding health care costs.
Under the plans, patients pay the same co-pay as they would for an office visit, and doctors get reimbursed about $35 for each patient e-mail that they respond to. Some experts say such e-visits could yield billions of dollars a year in savings, as well as cut down on time and travel for patients with routine medical issues.
“It certainly is very helpful,” said Dr. Michael Ainslie, chairman of the Minnesota Medical Association and a pediatric endocrinologist at Park Nicollet Clinic in St. Louis Park. “I don’t think it will ever take the place of a one-on-one interview, but I think it will be a useful tool.”