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What’s not to love about freelancing? You get to make your own hours. Pick your own projects. Be your own boss. For many of us, it’s truly a dream job.
But at some point, even those of us who are living the dream will have to wake up to reality. And that’s not always a pleasant experience. There aren’t too many drawbacks to the freelancing life, but healthcare may be one of them.
After all, when you’re working for yourself, that also almost inevitably means you’re on the hook for your own medical care. The good news is that those without employer-provided group health insurance now have more options than ever when it comes to receiving quality and consistent medical care.
It all boils down to the ascendance of telemedicine. But what is telemedicine, how does it work, and how can freelancers make it work for them?
What Is Telemedicine?
It’s really pretty simple. Telemedicine is just what it sounds like: medical care provided through telephonic means. This can include anything from routine physical health consultations conducted by video conference to mental health counseling provided by telephone.
Telemedicine is by no means a new thing. However, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has truly proven its mettle, receiving massive support not only from the healthcare industry but also from state and federal governments.
The expansion of telemedicine may have been borne of the pandemic, motivated by the desire to ensure patients have continuing access to healthcare without risking exposure to the virus or promoting the spread of the disease. However, it’s clear that telemedicine is far more than a fad because of the remarkable adaptability, utility, and efficacy that virtual healthcare has demonstrated in recent months.
Indeed, it increasingly appears that telemedicine is the future of healthcare. And that may be very good news for freelancers.
Healthcare Anytime, Anywhere
One of the most significant benefits of telemedicine is that you can access care pretty much anywhere there’s a phone or internet connection. This means that even if your freelance gig finds you in the most isolated enclaves of rural America, you can still reach your primary care physician, your psychiatrist, your physical therapist, or whomever you may need to call on to keep you fit, healthy, and happy.
When you’re freelancing, the ability to access healthcare from wherever you might be living or working isn’t just a convenience: it can also go a long way to keeping you, and your bank account, healthy. You won’t have to take the time away from work to travel to a physical clinic or hospital. And you don’t have to risk exposure to COVID or any other contagious illness.
In our pandemic era, where so much uncertainty abounds, the ability to maintain a consistent work schedule, to keep hustling for new projects, and to ensure the cash continues to flow in is perhaps more important than ever. Telemedicine helps to make that possible by giving you the tools you need to keep healthy, wherever life and work may take you.
Flat Rates and Lower Costs
If you’re like many freelancers, chances are you’re either paying for your own private health insurance coverage, or you’re making do without. A tremendous advantage of telemedicine is that it generally operates on a flat fee-per-service schedule, and those fees tend to be significantly lower than the costs of traditional care.
For example, the average general medical telehealth consultation is around $79. Compare that to the average of around $150 for the same services provided in a doctor’s office and to the more than $1,300 costs associated with a standard emergency department visit.
Vision and Dental Care
When it comes to telemedicine, some services are just easier to envision than others. A counseling session online and even a routine medical checkup via video chat are pretty straightforward.
But telemedicine allows for far more than just the basic services and, as technology continues to evolve, so, too, will the capabilities for remote healthcare. Already, there are numerous options for services beyond general medical or mental healthcare.
For example, the technology now exists to allow optometrists and ophthalmologists to conduct highly accurate vision screenings online. Thanks to remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices, your eye care specialist can even monitor your eye health remotely, including conducting glaucoma screenings right from the comfort of your own home.
Even dentistry is going digital, using video conferencing tools to help monitor the health of patients’ teeth and gums. A remote consultation with your dentist can end up saving you thousands of dollars in dental care later on, particularly if your care provider detects signs of trouble, such as inflammation in the gums or a breakdown of tooth enamel.
After all, in the age of social distancing, taking particular care of your teeth and gums, from brushing and flossing at least twice a day to getting lots of calcium and Vitamin D, has perhaps never been more important.
Earning your living as a freelancer is, for most of us, the ideal gig, offering freedom and flexibility that might never be found in a traditional job. But, unfortunately, what it often doesn’t offer is healthcare coverage. And that’s why telemedicine is increasingly proving to be invaluable for freelancers, offering consistent, accessible, and affordable care, whenever and wherever you need it.