Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield introduces online doctor visits

Members of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s Medicare Advantage plans in Wisconsin will have a new convenient, no-cost way to access care in 2015 through the use of technology. LiveHealth Online, powered by American Well Corp., allows members to visit a board-certified doctor on a secure connection over the Internet via a smart phone, tablet or computer.

LiveHealth Online is available around the clock, including holidays. To participate, members need only a computer with Internet access, a web browser and web camera. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, six out of 10 people age 65 and over go online and 47 percent have a high-speed broadband connection at home.

“More and more older adults are becoming comfortable using technology,” said Michael Carson, Medicare president of Anthem’s east region. “This is a great tool for those who are Internet savvy to use to access health care on evenings and weekends when their primary care physician might not be available. It is also valuable for people living in rural areas, those busy Boomers who travel, as long as telehealth is permitted in their destination state, and those who may have mobility issues.”

Another benefit, he said, is members can avoid being exposed to germs in waiting rooms and other common areas. This is important since immune systems can become less effective as people age, exposing them to possible dangerous infections.

Participants are encouraged to use LiveHealth Online for many non-emergency situations only, such as colds, sore throats, flu, allergies, infections and wellness and nutrition advice. These online doctors can send prescriptions directly to a member’s pharmacy where they may be paid by the member’s Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan. A summary of each visit is created and can be forwarded to the patient’s primary care doctor with their permission, supporting continuity of care and collaboration among providers.

There is no additional charge to Medicare members in Anthem’s plans for using LiveHealth Online.

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