Virtual Doctor’s Visits Are Now Becoming the Norm
Google and the Internet are making it easier for healthcare consumers to access virtual medical options, which is crucial at a time when shelter in place orders are keeping hundreds of millions of people indoors.
Searches and maps have been made available by Google which is also working to help doctors get up to speed on video conferencing technology. The COVID-19 outbreak caused a massive surge in interest for virtual care over the last 4-6 weeks.
Internet users will be able to find new features in the search and map functions of Google to help find medical care and available doctors, which includes tele-health options should they be available. Doctors offices have seen a huge drop off in patients as Americans are both terrified of contracting the coronavirus and under shelter in place orders from local, state and federal municipalities.
The new search functions will be automatic in many instances. For example, if a person searches for “urgent care near me” or some other term for immediate medical care, a virtual care platform may popup alongside the other results.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) continues to urge people to utilize telemedicine wherever possible to limit the risk of spreading the virus to themselves and to medical workers. Hospitals and medical facilities are, in turn, ramping up virtual offerings in their own facilities and Google will work to highlight those in the map and search functions. Insurance companies have even gotten in on the act and are offering to cover the cost of telemedicine visits scheduled in such apps as Teladoc, Doctor on Demand and American Well. Google is also offering to feature these in its search and maps results.
Why this Matters for Disability Claims
A major concern for any disability claim being made over the next few months is that so few people have access to regular and truly appropriate care from a doctor. Some individuals are too afraid to go see a physician and some doctor’s offices have completely shut down as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, disability insurance companies will still require that an individual be seen, treated by, or referred by a doctor who can examine their condition.
These insurance deadlines can cause massive headaches for people filing for short and long-term disability claims. Insurance companies expect the disabled policyholder will be getting the “most appropriate care” for the condition causing disability. “Most appropriate care” is a legal term of art where the insurance company will say COVID-19 should have no affect on seeking or getting the right care. Although that sounds unbelievable, insurance companies are going to argue, if you didn’t see a doctor, call a doctor, go to a doctor or get medicine, you aren’t sick enough to be disabled.
This new tele-health setup may also become the new normal for many Americans even after the outbreak ends and a vaccine is discovered. It would be smart of Americans to look into this option now and get familiar with these virtual offerings. In fact, the first step may be to contact your general practitioner to see if this is an option or to call your health insurance company and see what doctors in your area accept your insurance and offer this service.
Finally, many, many Americans are sad and legitimately depressed over Covid-19 and its affect on all of us. Depression like symptoms should be explored especially with tele-medicine now available.