By Amanda Weston
A new virtual system has been designed to allow patients to receive primary care without having to visit the doctor's office, all at lower monthly premiums.
Doctor on Demand and Humana ($HUM) announced the launch of a health plan called On Hand. Patients have a dedicated primary care provider, access to board-certified medical professionals, video visits, and more.
"There's a lot of people on the sidelines in this country as it relates to health care," Hill Ferguson, CEO of Doctor on Demand, told Cheddar Thursday.
"It's expensive. It's a crisis. And one way to bring more people into the insured population is to offer new plan designs that are more affordable and more convenient, things that reinforce the value of having a health insurance plan," he said. "And so we're really optimistic that consumers and small businesses in particular will see this as an opportunity to provide affordable health insurance for their employees."
Ferguson said physicians can treat 92 percent of conditions through the virtual connection. For the remaining eight percent, On Hand refers patients to a specialist network with Humana.
For doctor visits, there is a $0 copay, and a $5 copay for common labs and prescriptions. On Hand is able to keep costs down because it does not have a brick and mortar presence.
"We don't have a massive complex of facilities that we need to get utilized," Ferguson said. "So, hospitals are big. They're mostly empty and they have to bring patients in to earn a profit. Our doctors are employed. They work from home. So we don't have any of that overhead associated with a retail care delivery complex."
Amid a string of user data breaches and privacy concerns on some major tech platforms, some consumers may be concerned about the cybersecurity of a virtual health care plan. But Ferguson said On Hand's beginnings as a virtual company are an advantage.
"We built this from the ground up as a virtual care delivery business, which means we architected our platform for security from day one," Ferguson said. "That's a huge advantage when you think about how we move forward, versus having a brick and mortar legacy that you're trying to secure with new software. And so we think we have a huge advantage in that area."
On Hand will start rolling out to Humana members in June 2019.