Every time you go to the doctor, it costs you over two hours of your precious time, according to a study from Harvard Medical School. That’s the equivalent of $43 — not to mention the cost of the actual appointment, which can be anywhere between $100 and $200 to see a dermatologist without insurance (or $30-$50 with insurance when visiting an in-network doctor). Deductibles are on the rise, however, making it increasingly likely that you may not yet have even met your annual deductible; if so, that visit could cost well over $30-$50, even with an in-network doctor. Of course, this is all assuming you can get an appointment; a recent survey found that it takes up to 72 days, or an average of 29 days, to get an appointment with a dermatologist in 15 major U.S. cities.
These hurdles are enough to make anyone procrastinate on getting a mole checked, but there’s no need to put it off any longer! Virtual dermatology is an effective, time- and money-saving way to take care of routine skin care consultations and management. You can read in detail about the effectiveness of a digital doctor’s visit here, so let’s dive into the best ways to save money on seeing your dermatologist.
1. Dodge hidden costs
Even though paying out of pocket for a teledermatology consultation may cost more upfront, studies have shown that it actually saves money across all types of visits, particularly visits for managing chronic conditions. This is because it helps you avoid unnecessary visits and saves you time and travel costs, including gas, parking, tolls, and public transit fees. Not to mention, if your insurance plan has a deductible (and studies have found that deductibles are skyrocketing), you may won’t enjoy the benefit of inexpensive copays until you’ve hit your annual deductible; if you don’t hit that minimum, your in-office visit may actually cost you significantly more than you were expecting.
2. Skip the referral
If your insurance requires a referral to visit a specialist (like a dermatologist), you’ll actually end up paying for your appointment twice! You’ll pay once to see your primary care physician, and again to see the dermatologist. By submitting your queries directly to the dermatologist you can avoid the extra visit to your primary care physician and $15 to $25 copay. According to one study, a digital visit is a more efficient way for patients to connect directly with a dermatologist in order to decide whether they need an in-office visit or a referral to a dermatological specialist (e.g. a skin cancer clinic).
3. Avoid the wait
According to that Harvard Medical School study, for each appointment, patients spend an average of 37 minutes traveling, 64 minutes waiting or filling out forms, and just 20 minutes face-to-face with the doctor. That’s right, more than three times as much time is spent waiting than with the doctor. We can think of much better ways we’d like to spend two hours of our time!
4. Ask follow-up questions
Teledermatology is the best option, according to researchers, when it can prevent an in-person visit. Because SkyMD allows you to connect with your dermatologist (who already knows you and your medical history) without waiting weeks for an appointment, it’s the quickest and easiest way to ask follow-up questions, request refills or a change in dosage, or explore alternate treatment methods for a condition that’s already been diagnosed.
5. Take care of your routine visits
You know you should get a consultation to keep your skin in tip-top shape as you age, but it can be hard to find the time. For routine care, like having a spot checked, getting recommendations for aging skin, or an acne consultation, teledermatology is quicker, easier, and just as effective as going to see the doc in person.
6. Catch and treat issues early
No amount of extra time or money would be worth risking your health. Fortunately, a virtual dermatology visit can actually save you significant time and money while also improving the quality of your care by helping you get your concerns in front of the M.D. sooner, according to research. In the case of skin cancer, for example, early diagnosis can significantly improve your chances of a positive outcome and possibly even save your life.