There’s no doubt that the telehealth industry is booming in 2020, but with the array of new contenders out there, how do you decide what online healthcare provider to use?
Teladoc hopes you conclude that the oldest runner in the race is the most reliable. Launched nationally in 2005, Teladoc still stands as the number one provider of online medical visits in the U.S., with a network of over 3,600 licensed healthcare professionals in all 50 states. It offers a variety of services in different specialties, from primary care to psychiatry and dermatology. You can receive treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
So how does Teladoc compare to the newcomers in the telehealth market? We’ve evaluated their wide variety of services and have all the details below.
- A wide range of services, from pediatrician care to dermatology and psychiatry
- Remote physicians licensed to practice in your state and covered by medical malpractice insurance
- No sign-up or subscription fee
- Available in all 50 states and now also in Canada
- Major insurance plans can cover Teladoc (some services are free)
- Accessible via the website and apps for Android and iOS
- Treatment is available 24/7
- No additional charge for consultations that are out of regular working hours
- Costs can be high without benefits or insurance coverage
- Non-transparent pricing makes it difficult to discern prices until you create an account
- Telemedicine providers like Teladoc can’t prescribe narcotics, antipsychotics, and certain other medications
- You may not be able to choose which provider you see, depending on your benefits
We recommend Teladoc particularly to those who have decent insurance from a major company or coverage through employee benefits. In those cases, Teladoc can make virtual doctor visits easy and remarkably affordable. Teladoc’s ever-expanding array of services and specializations means that you can easily reach a therapist, general practitioner, or pediatrician when you need them most. Many major insurance companies cover Teladoc and numerous companies now provide employee benefits for telemedicine. If you lack insurance coverage or these kinds of employee benefits, your costs at Teladoc can be higher than some competitors. Some services are also unavailable to those whose insurance or benefits don’t cover Teladoc.
Innerbody Research recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary online. Over the past two decades, we have 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, this review of Teladoc, like all health-related content on this website, was thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.
Teladoc is a telehealth service connecting patients to doctors from the comfort of their own home. Teladoc Health, Inc., the parent company, manages a number of virtual health providers across 130 countries. However, Teladoc as a telemedical service is only accessible in the U.S. and Canada.
Consultations are conducted through phone and video calls via an app on your phone or computer. Available services vary by state. The costs you have to pay also vary based on your insurer, health plan, or employer.
Teladoc organizes its available services in several broad categories:
- Everyday Care
- Children and Family
- Mental Health Services
- Medical Experts
- Wellness and Prevention
Within this selection, you can use Teladoc for routine care, pediatric care, nutritional support, dermatology, specialty care second opinions, and mental health therapy.
How Teladoc works
Once you sign up with Teladoc, you can browse available services along with their respective prices. Individual prices ultimately depend on your health plan, employer, or insurance. The prices quoted in this review are the prices Teladoc claims are the highest amounts likely to be charged as copays. The amount you pay may be less if your health plan covers a larger proportion.
HSA, FSA, and health insurance
Teladoc works with many insurance companies and employer health plans. You will have to submit this information when signing up to determine which services are covered and what your copay will be. Teladoc also accepts HSA and FSA payments for services.
Teladoc’s “Everyday Care” option connects you with a general practitioner for routine consultations. This service is also available to caretakers who can schedule two-way or three-way consultations so that the caretaker, patient, and doctor can discuss the case together.
On-demand appointments are available 24/7, and scheduled appointments are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time every day. The “Everyday Care” service should cost no more than $49 per visit in copay or $75 per visit if an eligible health plan does not cover you.
Teladoc offers the option to see a dermatologist for skin conditions. This is a very popular service on Teladoc, with photos of skin conditions or rashes often aiding diagnoses.
Dermatology at Teladoc operates through a messaging service. Dermatologists respond to your request through the Teladoc message center within two working days, and you can ask follow-up questions free of charge for seven days. The dermatologist service costs up to $75 per visit as a copay or $99 per visit if not included in your health plan.
Children and Family
The “Children and Family” option at Teladoc puts you directly in contact with a pediatrician to handle any concerns you have about your child’s health. Teladoc ought to improve its transparency when it comes to the pricing of pediatric consultations. The way pricing works for pediatric care is a little confusing at Teladoc, partly because you actually must have insurance coverage in order to access these services at Teladoc. Consequently, your prices will vary based on your benefits.
Mental Health Services
Telehealth can be particularly helpful when it comes to mental health, because of the easy accessibility and the verbal nature of therapy. There are three services offered under the “Mental Health Services” option at Teladoc.
Teladoc’s mental health services are available through phone and video calls. Unlike some other online mental health providers, there does not seem to be an email or text chat option.
Therapists. Consult with a licensed therapist at a time that suits you and without having to travel to the therapist’s office. Appointments are available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and typically last 45 to 60 minutes. You can continue to see the same therapist throughout your treatment or change therapists if you prefer. These consultations cost $90 or less as a copay or $99 if not covered by your health plan.
Psychiatrists. Consultations with licensed psychiatrists are also available every day via phone or video appointments. Unlike therapists, psychiatrists can write prescriptions for antidepressants if needed. However, some controlled drugs like antipsychotics and anxiety medications cannot be prescribed virtually and require in-office care. When covered by your health plan, consultations cost $229 or less for the first visit and $99 or less for subsequent visits. For patients without an eligible health plan, the first visit costs $229, and subsequent visits are $119.
Mental Health Navigator. The Teladoc mental health navigator helps patients understand the landscape of mental health services so that patients feel confident in taking their next steps. Through this service, mental health professionals will discuss your condition with you by phone or video call and review any existing diagnoses and treatment plans. They then make recommendations for ongoing support and offer guidance on how to move forward, including facilitating appointments with Teladoc therapists or psychiatrists if needed.
The “Medical Experts” service offered by Teladoc is an online second opinion service to review diagnoses and treatment plans that patients have received. An advocate physician leads the case, matching it to a team of specialists in the appropriate field, who work together to review the medical records and test results.
In some cases, they confirm the diagnosis and the treatment plan’s accuracy, reassuring the patient in going forward. In other cases, they offer evidence-based alternatives for the patient and, with permission, communicate this professionally to the patient’s physician. Teladoc claims that their medical experts modify 45% of diagnoses and 79% of treatment plans reviewed.
This service is also available at the request of insurance companies and employers who want to confirm that the treatment suggested is the best course of action for the patient.
The Teladoc website indicates that there is no cost for this service, but it is unclear whether this only applies to requests made by insurance and health plan providers.
Wellness and Prevention
The “Wellness and Prevention” support provided by Teladoc falls into four categories: nutrition, back care, sexual health, and general health advice. You must have insurance coverage in order to access these services.
Nutrition. Registered dieticians hold sessions via phone or video consultation. Nutrition guidance is suitable for those looking to improve their nutrition and health generally, but dieticians can also provide specific advice for weight control, diabetes, high blood pressure, and prenatal nutrition. The dietician will produce a personalized diet plan, including meal plans and shopping plans as needed.
Back Care. Teladoc offers remote therapy for back care to make treatment of back pain more accessible. The back care program is led by certified coaches who guide patients and recommend specific exercises for them to perform. These exercises come via guided videos selected according to your back problem.
Sexual Health. Teladoc provides a discreet, confidential STD testing service in conjunction with STDCheck. After completing a questionnaire, the site will inform you of which STD lab tests are recommended and which testing center is closest to your location. You can attend the lab without an appointment to provide a sample. You will then be informed of the results online within three business days. You can also discuss the results with a doctor if you have any concerns. The price will depend on the testing panel recommended for you.
General Health Advice. The Teladoc website includes a blog providing general tips on a range of topics, from healthy eating to day-to-day safety and common health conditions.
The Teladoc.com website is easy to use and even offers helpful videos to guide you through the process.
Set up your free account on the Teladoc app or webpage, add family members or dependents if appropriate, and complete the medical history form.
Submit a visit request and choose when you want to see a doctor. You can include details of your current issues and photographs that may help the doctor with diagnosis. You’ll also confirm your preferred pharmacy.
Teladoc will connect you with the first available, suitable doctor licensed in your state. Apart from mental health services, it is not possible to request to see the same physician.
You will be notified via the app or email when the appointment is coming up. Teladoc recommends you open the app ten minutes before your visit and make sure you have a good signal. You will be alerted when the doctor is reviewing your medical history before your visit.
The doctor will phone you from an unlisted number, so make sure your phone is not set to block these numbers. There is no time limit for the phone/video consultation.
After your consultation, you will get a summary of the visit, including any medications prescribed as well as a customer satisfaction survey.
If the doctor decides you need medication, they will send a prescription to your preferred pharmacy.
Teladoc can provide an Electronic Health Record to your physician if necessary and with your permission.
Teladoc protects your privacy. The company is fully HIPAA-compliant, and all its licensed doctors and support workers are trained in HIPAA practices. Your physician will only share personal health information with your consent, such as sending a prescription to the pharmacy of your choice or communicating the results of your consultation with your physician at your request.
At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service. For health-related products and services, we have five areas that we use for our evaluations, including:
Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) and product(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 and/or product 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?