The 7 Best Online Doctors of 2020

Find the top telehealth services for your needs

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First Look

Best Overall: MDLive

"MDLive provides medical care through video-conferencing, either via a browser or through a smartphone app."

Best Budget: Rethink My Healthcare

"This virtual healthcare network offers non-emergency, fee-for-service medical care that starts at around $25 per visit."

Best for Women’s Health: Maven

"Maven takes a holistic approach to women and family health, offering you access to experts that range from physicians to nutritionists."

Best for Men’s Health: Roman

"The Roman app made its mark by offering sexual health treatments to men, but it offers healthcare services to diagnose and treat men’s medical conditions."

Best Pediatric: Anytime Pediatrics

"Anytime Pediatrics eliminates the stress of an urgent care visit by providing video visits in the comfort of your own home."

Best Counseling: BetterHelp

"Better Help offers four ways to access mental health services: messaging, chat, phone, or video."

Best Annual Subscription Plan: HealthTap

"The service offers both a free membership and an annual subscription plan that includes unlimited virtual visits via video or text messaging."

Online doctors and telemedicine apps allow you to receive health care virtually, without the need to visit a physician’s office in person.

This is something that's becoming more prevalent as we rely more on the internet and our smartphones in our daily lives. You can now make digital appointments for primary care, dermatology, mental health services, women's healthcare, men's healthcare, and more.

With COVID-19, the healthcare industry is experiencing a major shift. So, telemedicine is becoming a more viable option where the majority of people are self-isolating and social distancing. From MDLive to Anytime Pediatrics, you can find the best online doctors for your or your child(ren)'s needs.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: MDLive

MD Live

MD Live

MDLive is a telemedicine service that offers health care 24/7, through video-conferencing via a browser or smartphone app. The doctors of MDLive can treat more than 50 non-emergency medical conditions, such as the common cold, flu, and pink eye (conjunctivitis). The service also offers virtual visits for dermatology, counseling, and psychiatry.

First, you have to register for an account, which will ask for information such as your birthdate and your current insurance (if you have any). After registering, you can submit a request for the type of care you want and be connected to an available doctor by video-conferencing. 

MDLive can provide non-emergency care for the entire family, including children. But these services are not intended to replace your primary care provider, and you do not get to choose the doctor providing care to you over the virtual visit.

The company accepts a range of insurance plans, or you can opt to pay a per-visit fee. According to the service’s website, pricing for medical care varies based on your insurance coverage, if any. Specialty visits cost more, with a virtual psychiatry visit to evaluate and treat issues like addiction or panic disorders being most expensive.

Best Budget: Rethink My Healthcare

Rethink My Healthcare

Rethink My Healthcare

This virtual healthcare network offers non-emergency, fee-for-service medical care that starts at around $25 per visit. Rethink My Healthcare also offers a monthly subscription option for those who want frequent access to a healthcare provider.

In addition to virtual healthcare visits, Rethink My Healthcare offers an array of other services. You can browse their list of common surgical procedures to find a doctor who offers bundled pricing on surgeries like knee replacement. The telemedicine app also offers a dental care membership and other services, like inexpensive therapy and psychiatry sessions.

You can access Rethink My Healthcare’s services through a browser or smartphone app. Start by setting up an account, and then follow the steps to receive the care you need.

Rethink My Healthcare’s monthly subscription plans are not a substitution for insurance and will not cover hospital visits. This telemedicine service should be considered a convenient way to access periodic care without going to an urgent care center.

Best for Women’s Health: Maven

Maven

Maven

Maven offers women’s health, family planning, and pediatric care through video chats and messaging. Many health insurers and employers offer Maven as an employee benefit, but you also can access these telemedicine services as an individual.

The company takes a holistic approach to women and family health, offering you access to experts that range from physicians and nutritionists to back-to-work specialists who can help new mothers transition back to their jobs. The app also hosts a robust peer community, where you can converse with other members.

For individuals, Maven operates on a pay-per-visit system and discloses fees upon booking. Once you sign up for this service, Maven’s doctors can transmit to your local pharmacy prescriptions for birth control, urinary tract infections, and other conditions.

Maven’s telemedicine service is not for women only. The app serves same-sex parents and offers adoption services in addition to family medical care.

Best for Men’s Health: Roman

Roman

Roman

The Roman app made its mark by offering sexual health treatments to men, but it also offers healthcare services to diagnose and treat an array of common men’s medical conditions, such as heart and prostate health. Roman’s service is primarily messaging-based, though they offer video visits to men who reside in the states that require phone or video chats before a doctor can prescribe medication.

To use Roman, you’ll need to sign up for an account that includes filling out a questionnaire tailored to the medical issue you’re seeking care for. The sexual health questionnaire, for example, contains different questions than the questionnaire related to heart health.

After submitting the questionnaire, you’ll receive a message back from a doctor within 24 hours. This message will solicit additional information or offer a treatment plan that may include prescriptions. Roman operates its own pharmacy network and ships its own branded medications to your door.

Roman publishes all of its fees on its website, so you’ll have an idea of how much treatment is going to cost. And, once you’ve registered with them, you receive unlimited, free follow-up messaging with a Roman doctor.

Best Pediatric: Anytime Pediatrics

Anytime Pediatrics

Anytime Pediatrics 

Anytime Pediatrics offers video visits with your own pediatrician (if they are a member of the Anytime Pediatrics service) or with another local pediatrician. This telemedicine app accepts many insurance plans and also offers a private, pay option.

Taking small children to an urgent care center or emergency room can be stressful, and Anytime Pediatrics eliminates that stress by providing video visits in the comfort of your own home. During the video visit, an Anytime Pediatrics doctor can prescribe medications, and transmit them to your usual pharmacy. The doctor also can provide you with a school note, if needed.

Anytime Pediatrics provides a virtual medicine platform to thousands of pediatricians, which means you may be able to access your regular doctor through the service.

But if not, the app will connect you with a different, board-certified pediatrician in your local community. This doctor can provide non-emergency care for your children and will send medical notes to your regular pediatrician.

To use this pediatric telemedicine service, you first create an account, and then set up a profile for the child who needs care. For conditions like rashes or injuries, you can upload photos for the pediatrician to review.

Best Counseling: BetterHelp

Better Help

Better Help

BetterHelp offers four ways to access mental health services: messaging, chat, phone, or video. And, you can mix-and-match these methods in whatever way you want.

BetterHelp provides counseling services for teens, adults, and couples. To get started, you must sign up for a membership plan that is billed monthly. After subscribing, the telecounseling service matches you with a therapist, whom you can message as frequently as you’d like. If you want live therapy via video chat, you can schedule an appointment.

Telecounseling can be a discreet way to obtain the mental health support you need, when you need it. BetterHelp does not require you to enter your full name when registering, so you can remain completely anonymous. The telecounseling service also says it does not “cooperate” with insurance companies, so nothing related to your therapy can ever become part of your medical record.

The therapists in the BetterHelp network include psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors. The service does not address prescribing on its website. If you want or need medication for a behavioral health concern, be sure to ask in advance if your therapist can prescribe.

Best Annual Subscription Plan: HealthTap

HealthTap

HealthTap

HealthTap is a virtual healthcare provider that provides non-emergency medical care through its website and app. The service offers both a free membership and an annual subscription plan that includes unlimited virtual visits via video or text messaging.

With a free account, you can input symptoms to an artificial intelligence interface that can help you decide if you should see a doctor or not. A free account also includes access to a large database of physician-answered questions on various health topics.

To obtain medical care from a HealthTap provider, you must sign up for an annual subscription. Then, you can begin sending messages to the network’s doctors or request a video visit. HealthTap’s providers can order lab tests and transmit prescriptions to any pharmacy you choose.

The service says many companies subsidize HealthTap for employees, and the service will approach your employer to discuss adding this telemedicine app as a benefit. But you always have the option of signing up for a monthly individual subscription, if you choose.

How We Chose the Best Online Doctors

We conducted extensive research to evaluate the breadth of services, convenience, accessibility, and costs of various telemedicine and telehealth providers. Our research included only nationally-available telemedicine providers, excluding local or regional services and apps. To determine overall value, we evaluated the cost of each app in relation to the scope of services provided.

Other factors we investigated prior to choosing the top apps included: credentials of the medical providers or therapists providing services, ease of use, health insurance acceptance, number and type of free services or resources included in the price, privacy and security policies, including HIPAA compliance where applicable.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine (also called “telehealth”) refers to medical care delivered from a distance by means of technology. Telemedicine includes virtual doctor visits conducted by videoconferencing, telephone conversations, and electronic messaging. Telemedicine offers a convenient (and often affordable) way to receive medical care, without the need for an in-person doctor visit.

Telehealth is legal in every U.S. state and is reimbursable to some extent by both Medicare and Medicaid, as well as many private insurers. While telemedicine originally was developed as a way to provide medical care to people living in rural and remote locations, telehealth has seen a surge in usage during the COVID-19 pandemic as urban and suburban patients alike seek healthcare that doesn’t require them to present at a medical facility in person when avoidable.

Do Online Doctors Accept Insurance?

Virtually every health insurer or provider offers telemedicine, so if you have insurance the first thing you should do is check with either your provider’s office or their insurance company to find out how to access telehealth visits.

An insurance plan requires you to access telehealth through the provider website. Providers or insurers usually contract with companies like Teladoc for the technology to provide telehealth, but they (the plan’s doctors) provide the actual telemedicine visit. You'll need to contact your insurance company to make sure your insurance is accepted.

How Much Do Online Doctors Cost?

Accessing medical care through an app can be very convenient, but costs can vary widely. Your health insurance may cover the cost of telemedicine visits under certain circumstances, but you also can choose to pay cash for a video visit with a doctor, therapist, or another type of provider.

The average cost of an urgent care visit runs around $100 and $150, while a telemedicine visit may cost less than half that amount. For fast, affordable medical care, an online doctor or telemedicine app can be an excellent choice. 

Some insurance companies don’t charge any co-pay for telemedicine visits with doctors in your network. Check with your provider or insurance company to find out if you can access telehealth tools for free.

When paying cash, your cost per visit can cost around $25 if you're using Rethink My Healthcare, to $259 for a psychiatrist visit through MDLive. Each online doctor or app sets its own rate for cash appointments, so it pays to shop around.

Can Online Doctors Prescribe Medication?

Online doctors generally can prescribe antibiotics, skin creams, antidepressants, and other medically necessary prescriptions. However, most online doctors cannot prescribe medications like narcotics and certain psychiatric medications.

The federal government has instituted a registry to allow telemedicine doctors to prescribe these types of scheduled substances, but most doctors have not yet registered.

What if I Need a Lab Test?

Your telemedicine provider can electronically transmit orders for laboratory tests, imaging, and other studies the doctor may need to diagnose or treat your medical condition.

Be aware that you may be billed for these services if you do not use the telehealth service covered by your insurance company. Before consenting to tests, be sure to check with your insurer for guidance on whether or not the cost will be covered.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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