A number of major insurance companies are beginning to reimburse patients for online visits with physicians, which often makes more sense than travel, especially for the elderly and when direct observation and tests are not necessary.
In recent weeks, Aetna Inc., the nation’s largest insurer, and Cigna Corp. have agreed to reimburse doctors for online visits. Other large insurers are expected to follow, experts say.
These new online services, which typically cost the same as a regular office visit, are aimed primarily at those who already have a doctor.
The virtual visits are considered best for follow-up consultations and treatment for minor ailments such as colds and sore throats.
But some specialists, including cardiologists and gynecologists, also see these e-mail tete-a-tetes as ideal for periodic checkups that don’t require in-person visits.