Amazon Prime members have a new offer in addition to the usual delivery and streaming services: Access to One Medical, the Amazon-owned primary care company. Members have the option, announced Wednesday, to pay an additional $9 per month, or $99 per year, for One Medical’s telehealth services and in-office appointments at a discount of about half its typical $199 yearly cost.
One Medical, acquired by Amazon earlier this year, is arguably the most successful out of a growing number of businesses, like Amazon Clinic, Carbon Health, and Oak Street Health, that offer services designed to smooth out some of the wrinkles of the American health care system — usually with a strong telehealth component. In the case of One Medical, subscribers can get 24/7 access to virtual visits, and same or next-day in-person appointment availability. (The average waiting time for a primary care visit in major U.S. cities is about 21 days, according to a survey last year.)
In-person visits to One Medical’s 125 offices in the U.S. are still billed to the patient’s insurance company, so patients seeing doctors in person pay the One Medical monthly fee on top of what they pay for a visit. The company’s bet is that the convenience will be worth it. But if the ease and convenience of One Medical and other similar platforms can reduce the challenges of navigating primary care in the short term, experts tell STAT that they eventually risk worsening the health care system — the very problem such services purport to want to solve.
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