Online doctor services have reshaped the medical care industry. With increased access and decreased cost for patients, telehealth—aka online healthcare services—is revolutionizing the way you can receive medical treatment. Studies have found that telehealth services not only increase the quality of care for patients, but also make healthcare obtainable to more people.
With so many online doctor services available, it’s important to consider a range of factors before choosing the right one for you. In this guide, we’ve reviewed the best online healthcare services available today. Our comparison examines factors such as pricing, modes of communication, and services offered by the provider to help you make a more informed decision.
Our Best Telemedicine Companies for 2023:
Amwell - Best overall
Lemonaid - Best for discreet medical care
Teladoc - Best for mental health counseling
Parsley Health - Best for holistic care
Web Doctors - Best for medication refills
Plushcare - Best for online prescriptions
JustAnswer - Best for medical questions
AskADoctor - Best for 24/7 access to a doctor
|Compare the Best Online Doctors|
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On-demand medical advice
Discreet medical care
Mental health counseling
Patients in search of holistic treatment
Fast remote healthcare
People who need advice on medical issues
24/7 access to a doctor
per visit for general medicine
$49 per visit
$25 consultation fee
$75-$95 per visit
plus subscription of $5/month, $30/year
$175 per month
Starts at $49 (varies by condition)
$14.99/month membership + copay/$129 flat fee
$46 per month
Modes of Communication
Video chat, phone
Website, iOS or Android app
Phone, app, video
In-person, video, messaging
Email, text, phone
Out-of-network, FSA, HSA
Most major insurers (Cigna, Aetna, BlueCross)
All medications legal online
Most prescriptions as well as generics
All but controlled substances
Most non-narcotic prescriptions
Most prescriptions that are not controlled substances
Follow-up consultation included
10 per year
Yes via chat
The Best Online Doctors - An In-Depth Look
- Instant access to affordable healthcareRead Amwell Review
- Best ForOn-demand medical advice
- Modes of CommunicationVideo chat, phone
Amwell provides a convenient and valuable service to anyone who needs treatment for non-emergency medical conditions at all hours of the day or night. They offer convenient video chat appointments with HD-quality streaming, so you can speak directly with a medical professional.
Why we chose Amwell: Amwell offers access to a tremendous network of board-certified doctors at an affordable price. Amwell doctors can prescribe medications and send the script directly to your pharmacy for same-day pick-up.
Our experience: The online account gives you a convenient way to keep track of all of your medical visits, medications, and doctors' notes in one organized place.Pros
- 24/7 doctors' appointments
- Prescription refills available
- Huge network of professional doctors
- Not all prescriptions available online
- Domestic access only
- Discreet medication delivery servicesRead LEMONAID Review
- Best ForDiscreet medical care
- Price$49 per visit
- Modes of CommunicationWebsite, iOS or Android app
Lemonaid makes healthcare both accessible and affordable to patients across the country. The option to receive a diagnosis via an online questionnaire not only saves you time, but also protects your privacy.
Why we chose Lemonaid: Lemonaid offers a broad range of treatment options, door-to-door medication delivery, and a top-notch medical team. If discretion is a concern for you, then Lemonaid may be the right choice.
Our experience: Lemonaid’s website and app are easy for users to navigate and the online questionnaire can be submitted at any hour of the day.Pros
- Medication inconspicuously delivered to your door
- Doctors licensed in all states
- Affordable prices
- Not covered by insurance
- Some treatments require video or phone consultation
- Easy access to licensed doctors and therapistsRead Teladoc Review
- Best ForMental health counseling
- Price$75-$95 per visit
- Modes of CommunicationPhone, app, video
Teladoc hosts a network of hundreds of trained professionals prepared to give you valuable medical guidance for a range of issues. Whether you’re dealing with physical or psychological ailments, Teladoc can provide the care you need when you need it.
Why we chose Teladoc: Teladoc subscriptions are an affordable option for mental healthcare, particularly considering the typical cost of in-person appointments.
Our experience: Teladoc’s mobile app exemplifies the application of technology within the field of healthcare—it lets you keep tabs on your medical records, schedule appointments whenever you want, and even communicate directly with your doctor.Pros
- Excellent mobile app
- 24/7 everyday care availability
- Personalized dermatological treatments
- Mental health is not available 24/7
- Only available in US and Canada
- Holistic treatment from a personalized care teamRead Parsley Health Review
- Best ForPatients in search of holistic treatment
- Price$175 per month
- Modes of CommunicationIn-person, video, messaging
Parsley Health is a personalized health services provider founded in 2016. They treat a variety of medical issues, whether you know your condition, or if you’re seeking diagnosis.
A Parsley Health membership includes 5 doctor’s visits and 5 health coach visits per year, which can be in-person or over video chat. Parsley Health accepts most insurance plans on an out-of-network basis, and also accepts FSAs and HSAs.
Why we chose Parsley Health: Parsley Health focuses on the root causes of your illness, and uses lifestyle changes alongside medications to improve your health. This provider offers an approach that can be preferable if you don’t want to rely solely on medications.
Our experience: We were impressed with the personalized approach that Parsley Health provides to each patient. A physician helps you create a tailored health plan, and a health coach helps you achieve your goals.Pros
- 10 doctor and health coach visits per year
- Partially covered by most insurance plans
- Holistic approach to treatment
- Diagnostic tests cost extra
- Response times up to 3 days
- Telehealthcare available 24/7Read Web Doctors Review
- Best ForFast remote healthcare
- PriceStarts at $49 (varies by condition)
- Modes of CommunicationPhone, video
WebDoctors is a telehealth service that allows you to get routine medical treatments or urgent care anytime, any day. They treat all kinds of conditions, including pink eye, urinary tract infections, and upper respiratory infections—just to name a few.
Why we chose WebDoctors: Each WebDoctors physician is board-certified, American-trained, and duly-licensed. Plus, WebDoctors has thousands of positive reviews from satisfied patients.
Our experience: We like the fact that WebDoctors offers phone and video consultations, so you can choose the level of care you want while only paying per visit.Pros
- Available 24/7 by phone and video
- Prescriptions and refills available
- No subscription needed
- Video consultations cost more
- Unavailable in 6 states
- Affordable online medical care for everyoneRead Plushcare Review
- Best ForFast appointments
- Price$14.99/month membership + copay/$129 flat fee
- Modes of CommunicationPhone, video
PlushCare puts doctor services in the palm of your hand with an online platform and free mobile app. You can book an appointment online and see a doctor within 15 minutes directly on your smartphone. Then, if needed, your PlushCare doctor can send a prescription to a local pharmacy to pick up at your convenience.
Why we chose PlushCare: Plushcare is available to patients with or without insurance. You only need to cover a standard copay, making it one of the industry’s more affordable options.
Our experience: PlushCare lets you communicate with a team of medical professionals via unlimited text messaging—a feature we found to be particularly helpful.Pros
- Works with most major insurers
- Can provide prescriptions and refills
- Family plan available
- Pricey visit fee for uninsured
- Not available out of country
- Quickly find answers to medical questionsRead JustAnswer Review
- Best ForPeople who need advice on medical issues
- Modes of CommunicationEmail, text, phone
JustAnswer provides expert medical advice on a wide range of medical conditions, from asthma to sexually transmitted diseases to the common cold. You can ask your medical question online to receive a quick answer, or reach out to an expert by phone to address your concerns.
Why we chose JustAnswer: If you’re seeking fast and reliable answers to your medical queries, JustAnswer offers you easy access to guidance from a range of specialized medical experts.
Our experience: In contrast with some online doctor services, JustAnswer has a subscription plan that lets you ask an unlimited number of questions until you are completely satisfied.Pros
- Fast responses
- Access to thousands of professionals
- A fraction of the expense of traditional medical care
- Video chats only available as premium service
- No medication prescriptions
- Chat with a doctor online 24 hours a dayRead AskADoctor Review
- Best For24/7 access to a doctor
- Price$46 per month
- Modes of CommunicationLive chat
AskADoctor is an online medical service that allows you to chat with a board-certified physician 24/7, so you can get answers to anything ranging from general medical questions to issues that need a specialist’s attention.
Why we chose AskADoctor: With AskADoctor, you get unlimited access to a team of doctors specializing in mental health, cardiology, orthopedics, and more. Plus, you get access to over 12,000 experts on JustAnswers.com.
Our experience: AskADoctor stands out from other telehealth services by eliminating the need to make an appointment to receive the care you require.Pros
- 24-hour access to board-certified physicians
- Low-cost monthly membership
- Specialists across a wide range of medical disciplines
- Physicians cannot write prescriptions online
- Cannot request the same doctor each time
How Do Online Doctors Work?
What Are Telehealth Services and How Do They Work?
Online doctor services embrace technology by using web-based platforms that let patients talk to a doctor online, get a diagnosis, and receive treatment for a wide variety of medical conditions (more on that below). There are a few ways to get medical services via an online doctor, including text messaging, phone consultations, video chat, and submitting online requests.
Many services will let you send in a message directly to a doctor via the online platform listing your symptoms, current medical condition, or medical questions. Your messages are then reviewed by a doctor and responded to accordingly. This is the most efficient method of communication if you’re seeking answers to a particular question or if you need to refill a medication prescription.
Alternatively, if you need to interact with the doctor in real-time, most services offer phone or video chat services as well. Here’s how that works:
Schedule an appointment for the near future or send in a request for an immediate appointment.
If you request an immediate appointment, then you’ll be put on the waiting list and seen by the next available doctor.
If you schedule an appointment for the near future, most telehealth services will allow you to pick the doctor you want to see. This is a great feature as it will allow you to select a doctor you may already be familiar with and are more comfortable with.
When you see the doctor, they’ll discuss your symptoms or medical condition in depth. You’ll be asked clarifying questions such as medical history or family history, lifestyle habits, diet, and more—anything that’s relevant to your treatment.
The doctor will diagnose your medical condition and recommend a treatment plan suited for your condition.
If you require any medication, the doctor will send the prescription directly to the pharmacy closest to you for pick-up. Most telemedicine services will provide same-day pick-up for medications.
Another highlight of telehealth services is that their platforms often provide you with one easy-to-access place where you can find your medical history and treatment history.
What Areas of Expertise Do Telehealth Services Offer?
Online healthcare services treat a wide array of non-emergency medical conditions. The list ranges from less serious conditions like the common cold, the flu, or an eye infection to more complicated or chronic medical conditions like type 2 diabetes, asthma, and sexually transmitted diseases. You can also find psychiatric and psychological treatment for mental health issues like depression, panic attacks, and anxiety.
Here’s a short selection of some medical conditions and services that are available through online doctor services:
Antibiotics for infections
Birth control pills
PrEP for HIV prevention
It is important to clarify that you should not use online doctors for emergency medical care. Highly urgent conditions or situations—including concussions, internal or external bleeding, serious burns, heart attack, major psychiatric episodes, or suicidal/homicidal ideation—should be dealt with by heading directly to the emergency room, going to an urgent care unit, or dialing 911 for immediate emergency assistance.
How Much Do Telehealth Services Cost?
Generally speaking there are two types of pricing models for online doctor appointments and medical services: monthly plans/memberships or paying per-visit.
Subscription plans and memberships
Some telehealth services offer monthly or annual subscription plans. If you tend to visit the doctor more than once a month, have a chronic condition that needs regular medical attention, or frequently require medications, then a subscription plan will be the more cost-effective option for you. Online medical service memberships often give you unlimited access to all of the medical services provided for a single flat rate. This is also a good option if you tend to ask a higher number of questions, have frequent medical concerns, or like to remain in closer contact with your doctor.
Membership plans for online doctors can range from $19-$100 per month. You can also sign up for annual plans ranging from $50-$1,200, depending on the services you require and number of people you want to include in the plan.
Many online medical services let you pay on a per-visit basis instead of subscribing to a monthly payment. If you don't visit the doctor very often, are generally healthy, or don't have any major medical conditions, this might be a better option than paying for a full membership (though not always). Depending on how much the per-visit fee is, you may be able to find monthly or annual subscriptions that are actually cheaper.
Prices per visit will also vary depending on the type of doctor’s appointment you need. For example, every day or urgent care appointments will generally cost you less than a mental health session. Prices range from $55 per visit up to $299.
It's also worth noting that many online doctor services work with your health insurance or employee health plan. If that's the case, the cost of visits, services, and sometimes even membership can be covered, making telehealth services an even more attractive option.
What Are the Advantages of Choosing an Online Doctor?
Online medical services have been growing in popularity even after the peak of the pandemic. In fact, one study found that the current number of US physicians working exclusively through telehealth services has tripled compared to pre-pandemic. Here are a few of the biggest benefits of using telehealth platforms over the more traditional doctor’s visit:
You can book an appointment whenever you need one, see the doctor, and get treatment all from the comfort of your own home, your office, or wherever you are.
You don’t have to sit and wait in a doctor’s office or waiting room, wait for an appointment slot to open up, or wait for results. Everything is done on your schedule, and your medical e-card is automatically updated after each visit.
Most telehealth services work with a network of doctors, so someone is available 24/7 to help. Some platforms also offer unlimited messaging, so you can chat with a doctor and ask questions even after you've received a diagnosis.
Finally, telehealth services come at a fraction of what you’ll pay for urgent care or emergency room treatments. In fact, many of these services are cheaper than your average co-pay with your health insurance. With flat monthly subscriptions, you get unlimited access to medical professionals and services whenever you want.
Telehealth Services: The Wave of the Future
Telehealth services are providing Americans with an easier, faster, and more convenient way to get the medical treatment they need. And with affordable pricing plans, 24/7 availability, and large networks of compassionate, board-certified, and professional doctors, telehealth is a viable alternative to the traditional approach to medical services.
Natural Intelligence does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.