Telehealth: What to Expect
For your convenience, Dr Nicole McCarter offers Telehealth (virtual doctors visits) via Zoom, a HIPAA-compliant video platform. Telehealth has become increasing popular for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, utilizing Telehealth is essential to decrease the current burden on the healthcare system.
Nicole has been incorporating Telehealth into her practice for years, and many of her patients find it incredibly convenient and helpful. If you’re new to Telehealth, rest assured it’s mostly business as usual and super easy to coordinate. Telehealth visits can be useful for:
Discussing medical concerns & getting an individualized treatment plan
Ordering lab testing
Establishing care as a new patient or continuing care as a return patient
What to expect
Once you’ve scheduled your appointment, you will receive an email confirmation that includes Dr Nicole McCarters Zoom meeting link. If you haven’t ever used Zoom before, that confirmation email will also give you instructions on how to instal the program. Or you can visit Zoom here.
New Patient visits are 60 minutes
Follow-up visits range from 15-60 minutes. The first follow-up visit is typically 45 minutes.
Your first Telehealth visit
Just as we would in an office visit, you and Dr McCarter will spend the first portion of the appointment discussing your current concerns and other information relevant for your optimal health. You’ll spend the last part of the meeting discussing your treatment plan, which will include any appropriate diagnostic testing, nutrition and lifestyle recommendations, herbal medicine, nutrients/minerals etc.
The good news is various functional medicine tests have always been home collection. Without ever leaving home, you can test your hormones, food sensitivities, gut health, nutrient status, heavy metals, toxins, etc. These tests are kits that are shipped to you after your first appointment. Blood work may also be ordered during the visit.
Dr Nicole McCarter uses an online medicinary called Fullscript, where you can easily order the supplements recommended to you. Prescriptions for medication are sent to your preferred pharmacy.
Insurance: See below
Insurance information adapted from calnd.org
In the state of California, naturopathic doctors are excluded from insurance networks, so they are considered out-of-network providers. This means Dr. McCarter does not accept insurance. Some insurance policies offer out-of-network coverage.
How to find out if your insurance will reimburse for an out-of-network provider:
Call the customer service phone number listed on your insurance card.
Ask, “I want to work with an out-of-network naturopathic doctor, how much will you reimburse me?
Ask, “What is the best way to submit my claim with a superbill?” A superbill is the summary of your medical costs you will receive at the end of your visit.
Be sure that your benefits are clear to you.
Give it a try anyway! It never hurts to submit your superbills to your insurance company. We are finding that many companies will reimburse a portion of your out of pocket costs.
If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA)
An HSA is highly recommended. Most employer-offered high-deductible health plans that are paired with a tax-free Health Savings Account. You can set one up yourself too – if you are shopping for a new plan make sure it is “HSA compatible.” You can contribute up to $3300 pre-tax by having funds automatically deposited into your HSA from your paycheck. Depending on your tax bracket, that can be a 35% savings right away. Employers often match contributions, leading to further savings. HSA funds are also tax-free when you withdraw the funds, and the money is yours to keep if you don’t spend it all that year. Money in your HSA can be used to pay for qualifying medical expenses, including medical appointments with your naturopathic doctor, lab tests, prescribed supplements, over-the-counter products, and other medically necessary prescribed services (for instance, massages for back pain). Some HSAs provide a debit-like card, others require you to submit receipts for reimbursement. You may ask your doctor for a Letter of Medical Necessity detailing your dietary supplement prescriptions for reimbursement.
(Source: Affordable Care Act: Questions and Answers on Over-the-Counter Medicines and Drugs, The IRS).
If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
FSA's are much like HSAs, except you are at risk of losing your contributions by the end of the year. Even so, they can be a good idea if you know how to budget your healthcare expenses. For example, you know the cost of visits to your doctor, plus you estimate you will need a massage every other month to manage chronic neck pain and you know you will be taking a multivitamin and two other supplements to prevent future disease and manage your cholesterol. With that knowledge, you can have pre-tax contributions added to your FSA from your paycheck. If you reach the end of the year and haven’t spent your set-aside funds, your doctor can help you determine if there are pro-active steps you could invest in: for example, additional testing or new glasses.
What to do if your insurance doesn't cover you visits with a naturopathic doctor:
Patients are often the most effective advocates for improving insurance coverage of naturopathic services. To learn more about the steps to take please visit this link: calnd.org