The events of this year have taught us a lot, one of which is that the American healthcare system is flawed and in need of an overhaul. But it wasn’t the COVID-19 pandemic that created these flaws, the pandemic only served to bring them to light. The truth is, the system has been in disarray for years with more bureaucracy than care at the heart of it.
One company has set out to change the way we seek care and treatment in the US, Sesame, a direct to patient healthcare platform that’s connecting Americans with the high-quality healthcare they need without all the bureaucracy and jacked up costs.
Today, I’m reviewing Sesame, breaking down what it is, how it works and giving you all the information you need to decide if this healthcare platform is a good option for you and your healthcare needs.
What is Sesame Care?
Sesame care is a healthcare platform that embraces direct-to-patient care, putting the power back in the hands of the people by cutting out outdated, inefficient systems and processes, so that everyone has access to high-quality care at affordable prices. Without the complexities of insurance and other traditional healthcare systems and hoops to jump through, you get clear care that involves just you, your doctor, and one upfront price.
The company was co-founded by David Goldhill, CEO, and author of the books “Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father--and How We Can Fix It,” “Catastrophic Care: Why Everything We Think We Know about Health Care Is Wrong,” and “The Real Costs of American Health Care.” David believes that the healthcare system’s deficiencies caused the death of his father, which has prompted him to make the changes he wishes to see.
“Every single American has had some terrible thing that happened to them … usually because of confusion, complexity [or] lack of accountability,” he said. “They happen at every level of income. They happen in every type of medical condition.”David’s goal in building the online healthcare marketplace, Sesame, is to turn healthcare into a consumer good, similar to any other goods available for purchase, by making us directly responsible for the purchase of the care we need. This is a radically different approach to healthcare, but one that just may be the solution to the immense problems so many are facing when it comes to getting the care they need.
How Sesame Care Works
Sesame’s system is so simplistic in nature that it’s almost too good to be true. Here’s how this telehealth platform works:
Step 1: Determine what kind of care you need.
Sesame can help with primary care visits, prescription refills, dentistry, dermatology, and every other specialty in between. No matter what condition or issue you’re looking to seek treatment for, Sesame’s team of board-certified doctors can help.
Step 2: Choose your doctor.
Sesame has a rigorous vetting process that ensures that no matter which doctor you see, they’ll be the best of the best. Dependent on your location, you’ll be given a choice of available doctors to choose from. Each doctor has a complete profile for you to view to help aid in your decision.
Step 3: Book your appointment.
Whether you’re experiencing an urgent care need like a sinus infection, UTI, or stomach problems and need to see a provider ASAP or you want to schedule an appointment for the future, you can do so easily with the convenient scheduling feature. If you aren’t able to find the doctor and/or the time you want, you can easily get in touch with a live Sesame representative via their live chat and they will help facilitate your appointment for you! Additionally, they have a no worries booking policy that makes canceling and rescheduling your appointments easy. You can cancel up to 24 hours before your appointment to get a full refund - no questions asked!
Step 4: Pay one upfront fee.
There are no hidden fees, charges, or other nonsense. You’ll know exactly what you will be required to pay when you book your appointment. There are no insurance hoops to jump through and no red tape, just you, your doctor, and an affordable, low-cost fee for service.
Step 5: Attend your visit with your provider online.
Forget driving to the doctor’s office, waiting in the waiting room, and then in the exam room only to be given a minute or two of the doctor’s time. When you book with Sesame, there’s nothing standing between you and your doctor. You show up for your telehealth visit on your computer or smartphone and speak directly with your doctor. If a prescription is needed, he or she will send one in for you and if you need a referral to a specialist, they’ll take care of that, too. Quality care from the comfort and convenience of your own home!
Why Use Sesame?
Curious if using Sesame for your healthcare needs makes sense for your situation? This is certainly a new concept in healthcare. Although telehealth is not new, Sesame’s method of providing direct-to-patient care is.
I have reviewed some of the best D2C telehealth companies available right now and can tell you that this platform is much different. Here are some of the benefits of using Sesame care:
You have access to all kinds of care anytime - there is no waiting for months to get an appointment at a specialist’s office, you can get the medical care and attention when you need it, on your schedule.
There are no hidden fees or surprise bills - the price that’s quoted for you when you book your appointment with your chosen provider is the one you’ll pay, period. The providers who participate with Sesame set their own rates, and the rate they set for the specific service or type of care you’re looking for is the exact price you will pay.
The doctors are all carefully vetted and are board-certified - Sesame is truly dedicated to changing the face of healthcare, and that includes making sure that everyone has access to the best of the best care from the most experienced and renowned doctors.
Schedule visits on your schedule and from the comfort of your home - you aren’t at the whim of the doctor’s next availability, you get to choose what time and date makes sense for your schedule and you never have to leave the house to get the care you need. All appointments are done via video anywhere that you have an internet connection.
Your doctor can prescribe medications and order lab work and imaging - -Should you need a prescription or to have lab or imaging work done, Sesame works with local and national imaging centers and labs to allow you to get the testing done at your convenience.
Q: What makes Sesame different from other telehealth providers?
A: Sesame is the first direct-to-patient care marketplace that connects patients directly to real, licensed doctors. Doctors and practices choose to participate in this marketplace because they get the opportunity to do what they love, which is to treat patients, and they benefit from avoiding all of the hassles associated with healthcare insurance. As a patient, you get to experience the peace of mind of paying one flat fee while getting quality healthcare, as opposed to waiting for your insurance bill to come back and being surprised by the amount.
Q: Why can’t I use my insurance?
A: Sesame is designed for everyone, whether they have healthcare insurance or not. For those who do not have traditional healthcare coverage, Sesame serves as a way for them to get the care that they need and deserve. And for those who do have insurance, Sesame serves as a way to fill the gap where their insurance leaves off. For example, did you know that the average annual deductible for single healthcare coverage is $4364 and for families, it’s $8439? This means that, theoretically, you will pay this amount of our pocket before your health insurance even “kicks in.” By using Sesame, you can avoid the giant deductible bills by paying one flat rate for each service.
Q: What kind of specialties are available?
A: Sesame offers a wide variety of specialties, and they are continuously adding new providers to the platform which further expands the available services. You can book anything from primary care visits and dentistry to mental health and an MRI). Each doctor has their own list of specialties and what they can/cannot treat. If you don’t see what you are looking for in your area, be sure to reach out directly to customer service via their online chat and one of their representatives will make sure you get the care you need.
Q: What do I do if I am experiencing an emergency?
A: If you’re experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately or go to your nearest emergency room. Telehealth is not meant for emergency situations.
Q: Are all visits done via video?
A: Yes, unless you don’t have access to a camera, in which case you are advised to contact your provider at the phone number listed prior to your appointment to make alternative arrangements. Otherwise, you can expect that you’ll receive an invitation link via email prior to your appointment. When your appointment time is upon you, all you’ll do is log in and speak directly with your doctor face-to-face. No middlemen, no hassle.
Q: Can the doctor prescribe me medication?
A: Yes, Sesame physicians are able to prescribe a wide variety of medications for common issues like infections, allergies, and other urgent care needs. Please note that they are unable to prescribe things like narcotics and other designated controlled substances.
Q: What kinds of payments are accepted?
A: You will pay online when you book your appointment and payment is accepted from all major credit cards. Additionally, if your healthcare plan has an HSA or an HRA, you can use those funds to cover the expense.
Q: Do I need to pay for a membership fee to Sesame?
A: No, the only price you pay is the price of the service. There are no membership fees for Sesame and no contracts.
Q: Are there set prices for each service?
A: No, the prices are set by the individual physicians on the platform.
Q: Does Sesame replace my need to have health insurance coverage?
A: No, if you have healthcare insurance, you should not cancel it and use Sesame as a replacement. This platform is meant to be a compliment to your health insurance plan, allowing you to find affordable prices and save money when your plan falls short.
Wrapping Up: Should You Try Sesame?
I worked in the healthcare industry for 7 years prior to changing directions in my career path. While I wasn’t on the front lines, I was behind the scenes working with insurance companies and claims and seeing firsthand the cost of healthcare in America. I have watched folks have to decide between getting the care they need and paying their mortgage and I have seen my fair share of bills that feel exorbitant given the context of the service provided.
To say that I am impressed with Sesame would be an understatement. This platform is changing the way we seek to care for a common medical condition, connecting us with top-quality doctors and allowing us to avoid the pitfalls and expense that comes with insurance costs these days.
For the purposes of writing an honest, comprehensive review of Sesame, I went through the process of scheduling a primary care appointment. I started the process at 1:00 pm and was able to secure an appointment with a well-qualified physician for 2:45 pm that same day. And the cost was just $54 for a 20-minute consultation.
Even if I had health insurance that would have covered that kind of appointment or if my copay was less than $54, I would still keep in mind the convenience of the service I am getting. I have the opportunity to connect directly to a doctor, without leaving my home, and to have them all to myself for at least 20 minutes. That’s not something I have ever experienced in the traditional healthcare system.
If you’re part of the over 40% of Americans who have a high-deductible health plan, high copay plan, or simply have no insurance coverage at all, there’s no question that you’re saving money by choosing Sesame.
The next time you need medical attention, have a question for a doctor, need a prescription refilled, or anything in between, consider Sesame as an easier, more convenient, and more affordable way to get the care you need and deserve.