Nearly half of employers offered telemedicine benefits in 2015

Almost half — 48 percent — of employers offered telemedicine benefits in 2015, according to a survey from the National Business Group on Health. So far in 2016, that proportion has increased to 74 percent, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Patients most commonly use virtual physician visits for minor medical conditions, such as allergies, sinus infections, bladder infections and other conditions.

In addition to increased access and convenience for patients, telemedicine visits often cost less than in-person office visits. According to UnitedHealthcare data, the average cost of a virtual physician visit is less than $50, while an appointment with a primary care physician costs around $80. A trip to an urgent care facility costs $160 and an emergency room visit is roughly $650, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

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