Virtual care: A convenient and less costly alternative when you need help fast

By Regence
March 29, 2023
virtual care with sick child

It’s late at night, your child is sick, and you need help. The pediatrician’s office and the urgent care clinic are both closed. You could go to the emergency room but you’re not really sure if it’s warranted and know those visits can be very expensive. What should you do?

In situations like this one, and in many others, virtual care is a great option. As long as you have access to the internet, you can connect with a provider within minutes from wherever you are. The provider can diagnose, treat and prescribe medications as necessary. They can also refer you to in-person care if needed. However, the majority of primary care-related telehealth visits don’t need an in-person follow-up visit, a recent study found.

Best of all, virtual visits usually cost much less than being seen in-person. Some Regence plans even cover urgent telehealth visits with no out-of-pocket costs.

What common medical ailments can virtual providers treat?

Virtual providers can diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions, such as:

  • Allergies
  • Cold and flu
  • Constipation
  • Ear problems
  • Headache
  • Minor infections
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pink eye
  • Rashes
  • Sinus infection
  • Sore throat
  • Sunburn
  • UTI

Virtual providers can also offer care for a variety of mental health needs, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship issues
  • Grief and loss
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Stress management
  • Overcoming addictions

What can’t a virtual provider treat?

Some conditions require in-person treatment and wouldn’t be appropriate for virtual care. Here are some examples:

  • Severe pain in any part of the body, such as abdominal pain or chest pain. Severe pain can be a sign of a life-threatening condition, such as a heart attack, appendicitis or a pulmonary embolism.
  • Injuries and physical trauma, such as from a car accident or a bad fall. These injuries may require stitches, a cast, x-rays or other in-person care. Plus, a provider may need to thoroughly examine the patient to check for internal injuries.
  • Prescriptions and renewals for controlled substances like opioids. An in-person visit is required by law for certain prescriptions.
  • Conditions requiring in-person drug administration, such as an injection or an IV medication.

How does it work?

Sign in to your account on to learn what virtual care options are included in your plan. Select the virtual care provider, register and set up your account on the provider’s website, and then you can go straight to seeing a provider. It’s a good idea to register and set up your account now so you don’t have to worry about it when you’re sick and need care quickly.

If you or your loved one needs emotional support or mental health care, we can help you find the behavioral health care option that fits your needs. Most of our health plans offer virtual mental health treatment options from providers such as AbleTo Therapy+Doctor on Demand, Talkspace, Charlie Health and more. No referral is needed – you can visit the provider website and fill out their intake form for an appointment.

We’re here to help

To get help finding and accessing your virtual care options, sign in to your account at and use the chat feature, or call us using the number on the back of your member ID card.