Telehealth Explained: Revolutionizing Health Care From Home

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Telehealth is a type of service that involves communicating health information or providing medical care remotely through various kinds of online tools and platforms. Many health insurance plans cover telemedicine screenings and treatments, allowing many people to access medical care even if they don’t have easy access to a physical health care facility.

Read below to learn more about what telehealth is including what types of conditions can be managed remotely and how much you may have to pay for telehealth care.

Key Takeaways

  • Telehealth broadly refers to health information and services that are delivered by virtual means and includes telemedicine, which refers to clinical health care services that are delivered virtually.
  • You can generally expect to pay $40 to $90 per session for telehealth but this may depend on the type of provider you see, the type of service you receive and the details of your health insurance coverage.
  • Telemedicine often involves directly communicating with a doctor remotely or sharing health information with them asynchronously through remote patient monitoring.
  • The benefits of telehealth include its affordability, convenience and accessibility but it doesn’t address every health care need since certain screenings, treatments and surgeries can only be properly done in person.

What Is Telehealth and How Does Telehealth Work?

Telehealth broadly refers to the delivery of health-related information and services via electronic communication technologies. In the context of health care, it can refer to consultations, diagnoses, treatment plans and other medical services that are provided via phone call, text message, email, video chat, online patient portal or some other type of digital communication software or teleconferencing app.

Accessing telehealth may be as simple as setting up an online appointment on your health care provider’s website. You may also be able to find telehealth providers through third-party apps if you do not currently have a doctor or are not sure how to contact a health care provider directly.

If you are covered by Medicare, you can easily search for medical providers that offer telehealth services on the official Medicare website.[1] In addition, most private health insurance companies provide at least some telehealth coverage, so a representative from your insurance company may be able to direct you toward covered telemedicine services if your current provider doesn’t offer virtual health care.[2]

Who Can Use Telehealth Services?

Anyone with internet access and a device like a smartphone, tablet or laptop should be able to access telehealth services. You should even be able to take advantage of telehealth technology if your health plan doesn’t cover it. Of course, you will likely have to cover the full cost of telehealth services out of pocket without insurance coverage.

How Much Do Telehealth Services Cost?

Telehealth costs about $40 to $90 per session on average without insurance. The exact amount you are responsible for paying will depend on factors like whether you see a primary care physician (PCP) or specialist, what kind of service you receive, whether the service is covered by your health insurance plan and what your share of the costs are under your health insurance plan.[3]

What Types of Services Are Available Through Telehealth?

One of the main types of telehealth is direct communication with a physician via audio or video conferencing or online messages. Through this service, you may be able to discuss the following medical topics with a doctor over the internet:[4]

Examples of health issues that can often be managed or treated via telehealth include the following:[3]


Hair loss

Cold and flu


Cold sores

Thyroid problems

Depression or anxiety

Urinary tract infections


Warts, acne, rashes, eczema, rosacea or inflammation

Erectile dysfunction


Another major type of telehealth is remote patient monitoring, which involves tracking various health metrics at home and sharing this information with a doctor who can monitor your existing health conditions and potentially catch developing conditions early. Some of the metrics your doctor may want to track via remote monitoring could include your weight, heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, breathing and sleep patterns.[5]

What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Telehealth Services?

While telehealth can be beneficial for many people due to its affordability and convenience compared to in-person health care, it is limited in terms of the types of health needs it can adequately meet. A telehealth session is often cheaper than an in-person doctor’s appointment and it may save you time since you won’t have to travel to and from a medical facility or spend time in a waiting room.[6]

Additionally, telehealth can make health care more accessible for many kinds of people including those who live far away from a doctor’s office, don’t have a certain type of specialist in their area or have limited physical mobility.[6] Another perk of telehealth is that it can prevent the unnecessary spread of germs by people with contagious diseases, which is especially beneficial for immunocompromised people looking for low-risk medical care in the midst of a public health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.[7]

Nevertheless, telehealth is generally not ideal if you have become seriously ill or have been seriously injured and need emergency care or urgent lab tests. It also isn’t an option if you need surgery or any type of exam or treatment that can only be administered in person such as a mammogram or intravenous chemotherapy.[6][8]

What’s the Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine?

The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably but telehealth may refer to a wide range of virtual health-related services including remote education on health and training for medical providers, while telemedicine may refer more narrowly to the branch of telehealth that involves delivering clinical services remotely.[9]

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Do I need health insurance to use telehealth services?

You should be able to access telehealth services even if you don’t have insurance, although you will have to pay the full cost for the mobile health services you receive.

Can I use telehealth for mental health counseling?

Yes, you can generally access therapy and mental health counseling through telehealth.

Can I get my prescription adjusted through telehealth?

Telemedicine providers are currently allowed to prescribe controlled substances without an in-person visit but this may change after December 31, 2024.[10]


  1. “How Do I Schedule a Telehealth Appointment?” Accessed June 3, 2024.
  2. “Private Insurance Coverage for Telehealth.” Accessed June 3, 2024.
  3. GoodRx. “How Much Does a Telehealth Visit Cost?” Accessed June 3, 2024.
  4. “What Can Be Treated Through Telehealth?” Accessed June 3, 2024.
  5. “What Are Different Types of Telehealth?” Accessed June 3, 2024.
  6. GoodRx. “What Are the Benefits of Telehealth?” Accessed June 3, 2024.
  7. “Why Use Telehealth?” Accessed June 3, 2024.
  8. “Telehealth and Cancer Treatment.” Accessed June 3, 2024.
  9. American Academy of Family Physicians. “Telehealth and Telemedicine.” Accessed June 3, 2024.
  10. “Prescribing Controlled Substances via Telehealth.” Accessed June 3, 2024.

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