The Doctor Will Video Chat With You Now: Insurer Covers Virtual Visits

If you can live stream movies, why not live stream medical care?

Insurance company UnitedHealthcare will start covering visits to the doctor's office — via video chat. Patients and physicians talk live online — on smartphones, tablets or home computer — to get to a clinical diagnosis. This move to cybermedicine could save insurers a ton of money — or have unintended consequences.

Cybermedicine has been long-discussed by the experts. Now, Eric Neiman, father to a little girl in San Francisco, can explain how it works — from personal experience.

"So I'd gotten a text from my wife earlier in the day," he says. "One of our daughter's eyes was a little bit red and she was rubbing it."

A few hours passed and it got more red and started oozing. "Well, unfortunately that sounds like it could be pinkeye. So we would look at it together when I got home," Neiman says.

Which was close to 8 p.m. — too late to see their regular pediatrician. And kind of late to see any doctor. If they went to the local urgent care center, they'd get back home at 10 p.m. or 11 p.m.

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