Even as more patients return to in-person visits, insurers continue to roll out more health plans built around telehealth. Yesterday, Aetna announced it would offer nationwide virtual primary care plans, based on Teladoc’s care model.
The CVS Health subsidiary is building the new plans using Teladoc’s physician care teams, and will also include providers covered by Aetna’s network, and CVS Health services. Aetna plans to offer it to self-funded employers.
Called Aetna Virtual Primary Care, the plans includes an initial visit with a virtual care physician, who the patient will have a continuous relationship with, like a traditional primary care physician. They’ll also be able to access other virtual services, such as counseling, dermatology consults and urgent care. Patients can also message a virtual nurse care team to find local providers, access lab work and testing.
Of course, not all health concerns can be treated over a screen. For patients who need to see a provider in person, they can do so without a referral, as long as they are in-network, Aetna said. The insurer is also bringing over a concept that it has tested in some of its newer plans, by steering some patients to free services at CVS’ in-store clinics.
As multiple insurers offer virtual primary care plans for the first time, it will be interesting to see how uptake looks among businesses and patients. While the pandemic has certainly emphasized the importance of virtual care as an option, it’s unclear how many patients will want to use it as their primary means for accessing care, given that in-person visits have been rising from pandemic-lows.
Photo credit: Anastasia Usenko, Getty Images