You have the flu.
Modern medicine’s solution is for you to drag yourself to the car, try not to kill anyone as you drive through a pounding headache, then wait who-knows-how-long on a sticky plastic couch to see a doctor you don’t know for a prescription. And you’ll pay for the privilege.
God help you if your only option is an emergency room where an out-of-network doctor might walk through the door, ask 5 questions and hand you a $1,000 hospital bill.
There is now an easier way.
In less than the time it takes the average person to close the front door and drive to a nearby walk-in clinic, members of the IBEW’s Family Medical Care Plan can launch the Live Health Online app on their phone, videoconference with a licensed doctor and have a prescription sent to an in-network pharmacy – for free.
You don’t even have to get out of bed, which you never wanted to leave in the first place.
The service not only saves you time and money and keeps vulnerable you out of a room filled with sick people, it saves the IBEW money too. The service is so much cheaper than urgent care and emergency room visits that the plan has saved nearly $90,000 in just the first few months it’s been active with only a few hundred users. There are more than 85,000 members eligible, said International Secretary-Treasurer Kenny Cooper.
“When you’re sick, the last thing you want is to surround yourself with people worse off than you,” he said. “Doctors don’t do house calls anymore, but this is a pretty close second and a heck of a lot cheaper.”
And popular. When the FMCP trustees surveyed members that used the program, the average rating was a perfect 5 out of 5.
“Less money, less time, less sick people, and satisfied customers,” Cooper said. “That’s about as easy as it gets.”
Of course, the service isn’t for every problem. If you are having chest pains or trouble breathing, skip the videoconference and dial 911. But for that case of poison ivy that is running out of control; a dose of prednisone may be all you need, and an online visit might do the trick. The same goes for allergies, rashes, minor infections or any other sort of malady that might be fixed with a quick trip to the doctor.
To sign up simply create an account at startlivehealthonline.com. Have your insurance card handy, or at least your FMCP member ID. Sign up takes only a few minutes. If you run into problems, the customer support line is 1-888-548-3432.
The trustees of the IBEW’s health insurance plan are constantly adding innovative services for members, Cooper said. Another example is bestdoctors.com which offers expert second opinions before major medical decisions, also free for members.
The best way to know what your health insurance does for you is to subscribe to the FMCP newsletter at nifmcp.com. Local unions interested in getting a quote for FMCP coverage can visit the website or contact the plan at (301) 556-4300.
“We started the FMCP not just to lower costs for our members and employers, but to improve your lives.” Cooper said. “The advantage of running our own health plan is that we focus on health, not the plan’s profits or margins. It’s all part of our mission to be the best union in the world.”