The Best Online Doctor Services of 2020 - Speak to a Doctor 24/7

Nicky Lowney

Online doctors' appointments are the latest advancement in medical treatment. A phenomenal example of medicine meets technology, telehealth—aka online healthcare services—is revolutionizing the way people receive medical treatment. And patients are only too happy to experience the change, especially with the current focus on social distancing.

New to the online doctor's appointment scene? Here's everything you need to know about how telehealth works, and which online doctors may be best for you.

These are the best online doctors I tested and ranked:

1. Best for quick care: Amwell

2. Best for medical advice: SAMI-Aid

3. Best for medical questions: JustAnswer

4. Best for affordable care: CallonDoc 

5. Best for fast treatment: Walgreens

6. Best for monthly subscriptions: HealthSapiens

7. Best for ease of use: Teladoc

Instant access to medical professionals
Fast, convenient medical services, unique medical services
People who need advice on medical issues
Fast and convenient prescriptions
Anytime appointments with short or no wait
People with frequent medical issues
Getting medical help from anywhere
$69per visit for general medicine
$39.99-$59.99
$16-90
$39.99-$59.99
Averages $75 for urgent care
$19.95-$24.95per month
$75-$95 per visitplus subscription of $5/month, $30/year
Video chat, phone
Phone, video, computer, app
Email, text, phone
Online platform, phone consultations
Video and phone
Phone, video
Phone, app, video
55+
None
None
None
HSA, FSA cards
No insurance required, works with insurance
50+
All medications legal online
Most medications, except sleeping, weight loss, hair loss medications and controlled substances
No
Most medications, except narcotics
All non-narcotics
All non-narcotic prescriptions and refills
All but controlled substances
No
Available, not included
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes

The Best Online Doctors - An In-Depth Look

  • 1

    Amwell

    Instant and affordable health care access
    Amwell
    • Best ForInstant access to medical professionals
    • Price$69per visit for general medicine
    • Modes of CommunicationVideo chat, phone

    AmWell is a fast and easy way to get medical treatment for non-emergency medical conditions. With a tremendous network of board-certified doctors on call at all hours of the day or night, AmWell provides a convenient and valuable service to anyone who needs treatment on the spot. And at $69 a visit for general medicine, AmWell is an affordable option.

    AmWell has convenient video chat appointments with HD-quality streaming, so you can speak directly with a medical professional. AmWell doctors can prescribe medications and send the script directly to your pharmacy for same-day pick-up. The easy online account helps you keep track of all of your medical visits, medications, and doctors' notes in one organized place.

    Pros
    • 24/7 doctors' appointments
    • Medications available
    • Huge network of professional doctors
    Cons
    • Not all medications available online
    • Can’t access AmWell internationally
    • Specialty visits can be costly
  • 2

    SAMI-Aid

    Medical advice and treatment when you need it
    SAMI-Aid
    • Best ForFast, convenient medical services, unique medical services
    • Price$39.99-$59.99
    • Modes of CommunicationPhone, video, computer, app

    SAMI-Aid is not like your typical telehealthcare service. It offers instant access to medical professionals, including registered nurses and certified doctors, via a convenient mobile app. Patients can get medical advice and guidance for medical issues such as dermatological problems, mental health issues, and diet and nutrition from the comfort of their own homes.

    But SAMI-Aid goes even further than this, providing out-of-the-box medical services like find a doctor price comparison search and EMR cloud storage. SAMI-Aid also has a convenient medical tourism consultation service. This helps patients find the most professional and cost-efficient medical treatments from locations around the world for deep savings and better results.

    Pros
    • Offers unique telehealth services
    • Available 24/7
    • No subscription necessary
    Cons
    • Does not cover some types of medical issues
    • Does not accept insurance
  • 3

    JustAnswer

    Get the answers to medical questions faster
    JustAnswer
    • Best ForPeople who need advice on medical issues
    • Price$16-90
    • Modes of CommunicationEmail, text, phone

    JustAnswer is a fast and easy way to get expert medical advice on a wide range of medical conditions. From asthma to sexually transmitted diseases to the common cold, JustAnswer experts are on call to answer your questions.

    JustAnswer has a subscription plan that lets you ask unlimited questions to an expert in the field. What’s more, you can ask as many follow up questions as you’d like until you are completely satisfied with your conversation. And if you have more questions, you can always come back later for further clarification.

    Pros
    • Fast responses
    • Access to thousands of professionals
    • A fraction of the expense of traditional medical care
    Cons
    • Video chats only available as premium service
    • No medication prescriptions
    • Surprise charges are possible
  • 4

    CallonDoc

    Affordable, discreet, easier prescriptions
    CallonDoc
    • Best ForFast and convenient prescriptions
    • Price$39.99-$59.99
    • Modes of CommunicationOnline platform, phone consultations

    CallonDoc is an online health platform for requesting medication prescriptions and refills quickly and efficiently. Available during extended business hours, CallonDoc doctors can write you out a prescription based on the symptoms or conditions you specify in your online application. From there, CallonDoc will send your prescription directly to a local pharmacy. 

    CallonDoc offers most prescriptions, including antibiotics, allergy medications, and antifungal creams. You can also get lab tests ordered, with the results sent directly to your private account. What’s more, CallonDoc can order you an STD test in a discreet and private manner.

    Pros
    • Faster and more convenient way to get medication
    • Refills available
    • Discreet STD testing
    Cons
    • Little to no personal interaction with a doctor
    • Have to pay for each medication separately
    • Not available 24/7
  • 5

    Walgreens

    Fast & easy doctors visits from a trusted so...
    Walgreens
    • Best ForAnytime appointments with short or no wait
    • PriceAverages $75 for urgent care
    • Modes of CommunicationVideo and phone

    A trusted name in everything medical-related, Walgreens has served us all for more than a century. Now, the major pharmaceutical chain store has extended its services further by offering telehealthcare services via the well-known MDLive online doctors service. Through this partnership, Walgreens members can now get a doctor’s appointment within minutes, see a virtual doctor on their phones or computers, and get diagnosed immediately.

    The revolutionary virtual doctor's appointments are changing the way people take care of their health. No more waiting on hold, waiting for appointments to open up, or waiting in doctor's offices until you can be seen. Get an appointment on your time schedule without having to take a day off or leave the house. Walgreens even lets you pick the doctor of your choice from the list of available physicians.

    Pros
    • Get an appointment any time of day or night
    • Convenient system from anywhere
    • Select the doctor you want
    Cons
    • Not available in all 50 states
    • Dealing with a third-party telehealth service
    • No insurance coverage
  • 6

    HealthSapiens

    Monthly subscriptions for medical consultation
    HealthSapiens
    • Best ForPeople with frequent medical issues
    • Price$19.95-$24.95per month
    • Modes of CommunicationPhone, video

    HealthSapiens is one of the most affordable online medical services out there today. Costing just $19.95 a month for individuals, HealthSapiens provides you with 24/7 access to board-certified medical professionals. They’re trained to give you medical treatment and advice on all sorts of medical conditions, including rashes, coughs, colds, diarrhea, ear and eye aches, infections, and much more.

    What really makes HealthSapiens unique is that it charges a one-time monthly fee, and that's it. You get unlimited doctor visits and 24/7 access with that flat rate. Plus, you can have your prescriptions and refills sent directly to your local pharmacy for faster pickup. HealthSapiens works with or without health insurance. 

    Pros
    • Monthly flat-fee plans
    • 24/7 unlimited access
    • Prescriptions and refills sent directly to pharmacy
    Cons
    • FAQ section is small
    • Cannot choose your preferred therapist
    • Price for counseling subscription unclear
  • 7

    Teladoc

    The easy to access medical treatment app
    Teladoc
    • Best ForGetting medical help from anywhere
    • Price$75-$95 per visitplus subscription of $5/month, $30/year
    • Modes of CommunicationPhone, app, video

    Teladoc is a quick and easy way to get the medical treatment and advice you need when you need it. The network has hundreds of trained professionals on call to give you valuable medical guidance for a range of issues, including infections, rashes, stomach issues, sexually transmitted diseases, and more. 

    Teladoc subscriptions are affordable, starting at just $5 a month. And you can get professional counseling for mental health issues like depression and anxiety, as well. Teladoc has a great mobile app that helps you keep tabs on your medical records, schedule appointments whenever you want, and even communicate directly with your healthcare provider.

    Pros
    • Excellent mobile app
    • 24/7 everyday care availability
    • Personalized dermatological treatments
    Cons
    • Mental health is not available 24/7
    • Only available in US and Canada

How Do Online Doctors Work?

Online doctors embrace the use of technology. Using an online platform, patients can see a doctor, 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 containing your symptoms, current medical condition, or medical concerns and questions directly to a doctor via the online platform. Your messages will be reviewed by a doctor and responded to accordingly. This is the most efficient method if you’re just looking for direct answers to a particular question or a prescription for medications you need.

Alternatively, if you want to actually interact with the doctor in real time, you can use 1 of 2 methods: phone or video chat. 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 online healthcare services will provide same-day pick-up for medications.

Online healthcare services provide a convenient platform that includes all of your medical history and treatment history in one easy to access place.

What Types of Services and Areas of Expertise Do Online Doctors Offer?

Online healthcare services treat a tremendous array of non-emergency medical conditions. The list ranges from basic, everyday 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. What's more, online doctors' services usually offer therapy for mental health issues like depression, panic attacks, and anxiety. You can find psychiatric and psychological treatments as well as specialists that deal with dermatological issues and allergies.

Here’s just a partial list of medical conditions and services that are available via online doctors' services:

  • Antibiotics for infections  

  • Birth control pills

  • PrEP for HIV prevention

  • Cold Symptoms

  • Flu symptoms

  • Bodily injuries    

  • Acne

  • Migraines   

  • STD tests     

It is important to clarify that online doctors and medical services are not a good solution for emergency medical care. High urgency conditions or situations, including concussions, external bleeding, major psychiatric illnesses, heart attack, suicidal or homicidal thinking, or major burns, should be dealt with by heading straight to the emergency room, going to an urgent care unit, or dialing 911 for immediate emergency assistance.

How Much Do Online Doctors Cost?

There are generally 2 different types of pricing models when it comes to online doctors' appointments and medical services: the monthly plan/membership or the one-off rate.

  • 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 require frequent medications, then a subscription plan is the most cost-effective option for you. These online medical services give you unlimited access to all of the medical services provided for a single flat rate. This is also a good option for people who like to ask a lot of questions, have frequent medical concerns, or like to be in touch with the doctor.

These services 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 cover (i.e., check out the family plans).

  • One-off fees

Alternatively, many online medical service providers work on a one-time payment basis. When you use the service, you pay. When you don't, you don't. If you don't generally visit the doctor very often, are generally healthy, or don't have any major medical conditions to worry about, this might be a better option than paying for a full subscription (though not always). Depending on how much the per-service fee is, you may be able to find monthly or annual subscriptions that are cheaper than the one-off fee. So, do your homework.

Prices per visit will also vary depending on the type of doctor’s appointment you want. For example, every day or urgent care appointments will generally cost you less than a mental health session. Prices range from $55 a visit up to $299.

It's also worth noting that many online doctors' services work with your health insurance or employee health plan. If that's the case, the cost of visits, services, and sometimes membership will be covered, making telehealth services an obvious choice.

Why Should I Choose an Online Doctor?

Online medical services are growing in popularity, and it’s not hard to understand why. Here are a few of the benefits of using telehealth platforms over the more traditional doctor’s visit:

  • Convenience

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.

  • Time

You don’t have to sit and wait in a doctor’s office or waiting room, wait for an appointment slot to open up, and wait for results. Everything is done on your schedule, and your medical e-card is automatically updated after each visit.

  • Availability

Most telehealth services work with a network of doctors, so someone is available 24/7 to help.

  • Affordability

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.

Online Doctors: 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 medical approach.

Nicky Lowney
Nicky Lowney has been writing about health and medicine for more than 15 years. With a master’s degree in health communication, she specializes in translating complex medical information into readable, engaging content. Nicky has written for Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, Decision Resources Group, and EBSCO Information Services, among other clients. In her free time, Nicky enjoys cycling, hiking, and performing with her local community theater.