Scheduling and paying for healthcare visits can be extremely complicated. Long wait times and hidden costs are a hassle when you’re just trying to get better and be healthy. Luckily, there are some healthcare platforms that have revolutionized how we access care by making it more accessible, affordable, and personalized.
Sesame Care is one of those healthcare platforms. They offer both telehealth and in-person appointments with providers around the country, upfront costs, and no insurance required. Patients take control of their care by choosing their own doctors, booking appointments, and paying upfront without hidden fees. Sesame Care offers a marketplace of providers that cover services from pediatrics to dentistry to sexual health.
For those who are interested in taking charge of their healthcare, our Sesame Care review can help you figure out if this platform is the right one for you. We’ll share what it’s like to book an appointment, pay for visits, and receive care as well as how Sesame’s offerings stack up against other similar platforms. Read our full review below to learn more.
Sesame stands out because it offers upfront pricing, both virtual and in-person visits, and affordable appointment and prescription costs. If you don’t have insurance, Sesame makes it possible to receive care at an accessible price. You also have the freedom to choose your own provider and schedule your own appointments. However, there are some limitations, such as limited prescription options and strictly online payments. If you have frequent medical needs or conditions that require a specialist, costs can add up.
Over the past two decades, Innerbody Research has helped tens of millions of readers make more informed decisions involving staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles.
We extensively test each health service we review. We try our best to give you, our readers, an unbiased exploration of at-home health services, free of marketing jargon or gimmicks. We evaluate the service based on our adherence to quality, the latest medical evidence and health standards, and a simple question: would we buy the product or service ourselves if it weren’t part of our job, and would we recommend it to family and friends?
Additionally, like all health-related content on this website, this review was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
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Sesame’s mission is to make healthcare accessible, simple, and affordable by being upfront about costs and allowing customers to choose their providers and book their own appointments.
Sesame describes itself as a “direct-to-patient care marketplace.” This means that the platform directly links customers with healthcare providers, offering over 40 healthcare specializations. To use Sesame’s services, you don’t need to have health insurance, and providers set visit prices, which they present upfront. Unlike other healthcare platforms, you do not have to pay for a membership or subscription to take advantage of Sesame’s services.
Another unique feature of Sesame is that you can schedule either a video chat or in-person appointment. Telehealth appointments are scheduled with doctors nationwide, while in-person appointments are narrowed down to providers in your geographic location.
Sesame offers 40+ healthcare specializations, including:
This is an abbreviated list of the types of care that Sesame offers, but there is a comprehensive list on their site. Once you’ve located the type of care you need, you can click on the link to find licensed providers.
If you’re not sure what type of care you need, you can also search for treatment by symptoms. Choose your symptom from the list, and the site will direct you to the correct type of provider.
For most types of care, Sesame offers both virtual and in-person appointments. The site gives a list of providers for each type of visit, and you can select the provider based on their profile. This list also includes the cost per visit.
Depending on your location, you may be able to choose between a telehealth or in-person appointment.
Telehealth appointments, also called video visits, are generally 15-minute virtual appointments with a provider. Some telehealth appointments may be longer depending on services and type of care. When you schedule a video visit, you receive an email with a link to the video chat. Thirty minutes before your appointment, you will receive a reminder email with the link as well.
Because providers can be licensed to practice in multiple states, there are more telehealth providers available than in-person providers, and you can book your own appointment on the Sesame site. In-person providers are more limited because they are bound by location, and setting these appointments requires up to a 24-hour waiting period. The telehealth option also provides more opportunity for same-day appointments. Of course, there are some types of care and medical procedures that require an in-person visit, so Sesame provides that option for all services.
Getting started with Sesame is simple. Using Sesame’s user-friendly site, you can book an appointment with a provider based on the type of care you need.
After choosing from a list of symptoms or types of care, the site then presents two lists of doctors who are licensed to practice in your state. One list identifies providers available for telehealth visits while the other includes providers available for in-person visits. Each list contains provider profiles. Sesame emphasizes that all doctors on the marketplace are board certified with clean disciplinary records. Each provider profile includes the provider’s location, specialization, gender, Google reviews, cost per visit, and other appointment information.
If you select a telehealth visit, you’re taken to a scheduling page that lists the provider’s availability. Once you select a day and time for your appointment, the following booking page asks for basic contact information and payment details. If you select an in-person appointment, you provide the same details on the booking page and will be contacted within 24 hours with your appointment date and time.
Only online payments are accepted using credit or debit cards. Sesame is flexible with cancellations and refunds. You can cancel a virtual appointment up to 3 hours before and an in-person appointment up to 24 hours before and receive a full refund. No refunds are given for no-show appointments, and you can also reschedule your appointment within 24 hours.
Sesame allows its providers to set the cost of both telehealth and in-person visits, so cost of visits varies based on the provider, service, and type of appointment.
For example, for mental health services, you may pay only $25 for a telehealth video consultation. However, an in-person psychiatry consultation for a new patient could cost closer to $300. Even general medical telehealth visits have a range of costs, some as low as $25 and others as high as $99.
Even though the cost of an appointment is variable, what remains consistent is that pricing is upfront. Before you schedule an appointment, you know exactly how much it will cost, and you pay at the time of booking. Sesame states that it does not include any hidden fees and that most patients save up to 60% on healthcare costs by using their services.
One of the benefits of Sesame is that you don’t need insurance to use their services. Since pricing is upfront, you can make decisions about cost and value without having to worry about insurance coverage. Sesame is a complement to insurance because its services can make up for high deductibles or other coverage gaps. Depending on your plan, you could be reimbursed by your insurance company for your visits with Sesame.
If you have a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), you can use it to pay for Sesame’s services. Some HSAs and FSAs come with a debit card that can be used to pay for services. Others will allow you to pay out of pocket and then submit a reimbursement. Check the details of your plan to figure out which method is the best option for you.
Sesame recently introduced a prescription service, SesameRX, which can fulfill both new prescriptions and refills. They offer some prescriptions for as low as $5, with free delivery on many medications. The medication ships within 3-5 business days and tracking is provided.
Similar to upfront pricing with provider visits, SesameRX provides upfront pricing on medications. If you select a specific medicine, you will see the price for a 30-day supply. You can also select from a list of medical conditions to see a list of medications used to treat that illness. This list also provides the cost for a 30-day supply, allowing you to compare prices.
To receive a new prescription or refill, you go through the same steps to schedule a provider appointment. Select the medication you want or the condition you have and set up either a virtual or in-person appointment with a provider qualified to prescribe that medication.
As with provider visits, prescription services do not require insurance. You pay upfront for your medication before it ships.
The value of Sesame’s services depends on the customer. Since providers set their own costs, it’s easy to choose providers with affordable prices for most services. However, if you need to see a specialist or have serious health issues that require frequent appointments, the cost of care can add up.
For those without health insurance who need a flexible platform that can accomodate tighter budgets, Sesame is a good option. Even patients who do have health insurance but have high deductibles or other gaps in coverage may find that Sesame’s prices help to supplement their insurance plan.
The value of Sesame’s services go beyond cost though. Much of the value of this service comes from empowering customers to take control of their healthcare decisions. Everyone has had the experience of trying to book a doctor’s appointment and waiting on hold for ages or having to schedule weeks or months in advance. Sesame reduces that wait time and, in some cases, eliminates it altogether.
Customers are also empowered to choose their own providers. You can learn about your provider before meeting with them and use their profile to make an informed decision. If you’re not satisfied with that provider, you can schedule with a different one next time. Of course, you can do the same in traditional medical settings, but Sesame removes the red tape.
For customers who want to save on prescription costs, SesameRX is a useful alternative to traditional prescription services or health insurance. Not being able to afford medications is a real concern for many people. If your medication is offered by SesameRX at a more affordable price, this can take the guesswork out of insurance coverage, and upfront pricing can help you budget for medication costs.
Sesame uses Stripe for all payments. Stripe is used by millions of companies worldwide to manage payments, including Amazon, Google, Spotify, and Expedia. The company uses secure servers to ensure that payment information is safe and cannot be accessed by third parties. Sesame Care also ensures that all of its platforms comply with HIPAA regulations.
At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For Sesame Care and other telemedicine services and products, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:
Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) to the customer? For testing services, does the company adhere to the latest and most advanced testing technologies and achieve a very high degree of accuracy? For non-testing telehealth services, is the quality of the service high enough that we would recommend it to loved ones without hesitation? If not, why not?
User-friendly: How intuitive and user-friendly is the service? Does the device/program/app/website achieve a good degree of user-friendliness for its customers?
Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?
Privacy: If health data is stored, will your data be stored securely? Are payments secure?
Customer support: Particularly in situations where ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t make sense, how well does the company help to make the service ideal for you?