SOURCE: :DentalPlans

:DentalPlans

December 21, 2016 09:10 ET

Influenza Season Is Here and Costs for Care Are High

:DentalPlans Recommends Telemedicine: A Fast, Cost-Effective Resource for Flu-like Symptoms

PLANTATION, FL--(Marketwired - December 21, 2016) - The 2016-2017 influenza season has begun and it is forecasted that flu activity is expected to increase leading into the New Year, costing families and businesses hundreds of dollars. While no one can predict the virulence of any year's outbreak, the flu causes severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths every year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And, the costs of care are high too. The flu is responsible for $10.4 billion in direct medical expenses yearly and $16.3 billion in lost earnings for sick employees. The average family will also spend between $300 and $400 dollars out of pocket if a family member gets ill with the flu. Most of this cost is related to doctor's visits.

But doctors are increasingly suggesting that patients with flu-like symptoms skip office visits in the hopes of containing the infection. People with the flu can infect other people up to about 6 feet away just by talking, sneezing and/or coughing in close proximity to them, according to the CDC. To contain the infection, and unless further evaluation and testing is needed, patients may be able to be evaluated and treated with telemedicine consultations over the phone or via the Internet. Doing so also allows them to avoid long wait times and costly doctor's visits.

"Discussing symptoms with a doctor online or over the phone, and getting a prescription for an antiviral medication if needed, not only reduces the spread of infection but also reduces the cost of treatment. This allows patients to avoid the cost of a doctor's visit or the even costlier trip to the emergency room or urgent care clinic," said Jennifer Stoll, chief commercial officer for :DentalPlans.

Telemedicine and Flu-like Symptoms

It is recommended that people who experience flu-like symptoms, which include muscle aches, fever, chills, congestion, headache, sore throat and fatigue, talk to a doctor as soon as possible, as they may need to be treated immediately. Antiviral drugs often shorten the length and severity of a flu infection, if they are prescribed and taken as soon as the person experiences the onset of symptoms.

"Telemedicine is the most efficient way to get care, since you can just call and speak with a doctor within minutes," said Stoll. "In most cases, you can receive a prescription and start treatment in less than the time it might take you to travel to your doctor's office."

:DentalPlans offers convenient access to care through its :DP HealthNow card, which includes six helpful resources, including telehealth and advocacy and advisory services. This is not a healthcare insurance plan, but a great option for those with or without health insurance. Members enjoy access to all six benefits at no additional cost, after the low annual membership fee.

Teladoc™, a 24/7 telemedicine service included with the card, connects members with locally-licensed physicians for diagnoses, treatment advice and even prescriptions, if necessary. Additional benefits like Health Advocacy™ and Medical Bill Saver™ services help members easily navigate the healthcare system and reduce the cost of their medical and dental care bills. A list of all included services can be viewed here.

:DP HealthNow offers free consultations with locally-licensed doctors 24/7 via phone or video chat, along with access to a broad range of experts who can provide insight on virtually any health or wellness issue. For more information on :DP HealthNow visit DentalPlans.com.

About :DentalPlans

:DentalPlans, founded in 1999, is a leading dental and health savings marketplace in the U.S., helping more than a million people to affordably access quality healthcare services. Our mission is to empower consumers with the tools, information, and services that they need to live happier, healthier lives. For more information, visit us at www.dentalplans.com and find us on Facebook, Twitter, Twitter (PR), Pinterest and YouTube.

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