In recent weeks,Aetna Inc., the nation's largest insurer, and Cigna Corp. have agreed to reimburse doctors for online visits. Other large insurers are expected to follow, experts say.Wow, we don't even have to see people anymore to be a doctor.
These new online services, which typically cost the same as a regular office visit, are aimed primarily at those who already have a doctor. The virtual visits are considered best for follow-up consultations and treatment for minor ailments such as colds and sore throats.
Sore throat? Treat it. Swollen glands? Treat it. Dysuria? Treat it.
Never mind that antibiotic resistance is already a HUGE problem - it's CHEAPER and MORE CONVENIENT people! (At least at first.) Methicillin resistant staph? Vancomycin-resistant enterococcus? Clostridium dificile? Let's rock and ROLL! Prescribe, baby, prescribe! Let's see if we can make even more potent organisms! Lets give EVERYBODY antibiotics. Hell, why not just sell 'em over the counter? Who needs a doctor anyway?
But seriously. Online doctoring will be great for the majority of minor ailments and the payment structure, if true, might be a much-needed boon for primary care. But there are serious limitations that liability lawyers will love to exploit. Like what about the sore throat that is really epiglottitis? Or the dysuria that is caused by an drug-resistant STD?
Will the insurers pick up my higher liability payments that might result from missed online diagnoses, too?