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Launch of Amazon Care telehealth service nationwide

Amazon employees are told they can get on-call health care

Amazon is rolling out its telehealth service, known as Amazon Care, nationwide, the company announced Tuesday.

Amazon Care launched in 2019 as a pilot program for employees in and around the company’s headquarters in Seattle. The program offers virtual care visits, as well as free telehealth consultations and paid home visits by nurses for tests and vaccinations. It has since evolved into a primary care service.

In addition to making telehealth services available nationwide, Amazon says it is expanding in-person care to more cities across the United States. Amazon plans to launch in 20 cities, including New York, San Francisco, Miami and Chicago, later this year. Amazon Care’s in-person services are already available in eight cities.

Amazon said it was capitalizing on the surge in demand for home care, both virtually and in person, generated by the coronavirus pandemic. He hopes Amazon Care’s mix of virtual care and “a new approach to in-person care” will be able to alienate employers from other providers.

However, it faces an uphill battle as virtual care is an increasingly crowded space, with insurers also participating in the expansion of telehealth.

One of the keys to the growth of a virtual primary care service is getting coverage from the health insurance network, especially when it comes to employer plans that pay workers’ bills to access care. Health insurers are already working with established providers like Teladoc and Dr. on Demand to provide the telehealth platform, but when it comes to virtual primary care plans, they are increasingly launching their own programs.

Anthem also announced Tuesday that it will offer new virtual primary care services in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Connecticut later this year. UnitedHealthcare, the Aetna division of CVS Health, and Cigna, through its recently acquired MDLive telehealth unit, now offer employers virtual primary care plans that they market as programs to help employees manage chronic illnesses and to reduce costs.

Still, Amazon seems to be recruiting more employers. The company said on Tuesday it had started providing services to Whole Foods, the high-end grocer it acquired in 2017, as well as chipmaker Silicon Labs and TrueBlue, a staffing and recruiting firm.

Last June, Babak Parviz, a vice president working at Amazon Care, said the company had attracted interest from a range of companies interested in using its telehealth services.

LOOK: Amazon to expand Amazon Care nationwide for its workers and other employers

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