We all know how much financial stress we can feel just by going to the doctor with the shockingly high medical costs in the U.S., especially if you’re not covered by health insurance. With a reported 50% of Americans carrying medical debt in 2021, it’s no surprise that many are looking for a better alternative to costly healthcare services.
You deserve to get the medical care that you need without the worry of a hefty bill in return. Sesame Care is a direct-to-telehealth platform that’s aiming to do just that for patients with and without health insurance. They tell you how much each appointment (telehealth and in-person) or medication will cost upfront, taking the mystery and anxiety out of medical costs.
Intrigued by the idea of affordable health services? Keep reading to learn more about Sesame and how it could save you money on medical care of every kind.
The lowdown on telehealth
Telehealth makes it possible for healthcare providers to communicate with and treat patients from afar. This adds an element of convenience and flexibility to receiving medical care, especially in a post-COVID world. But, there’s another aspect of telehealth that more patients are finding appealing: cost-efficiency.
If you’re one of the more than 40% of Americans who have a high-deductible health plan, a high copay plan, or no insurance at all, it’s understandable if you are actively looking for affordable health care plans.
In most cases, telehealth is a more affordable alternative to in-person medical care because it requires fewer resources. Unfortunately, many direct-to-consumer telehealth platforms take advantage of this affordability by providing inferior medical care. Platforms like Sesame are designed to save you money, time, and resources by researching for you to find the lowest prices on medical appointments and medications.
Along with convenience and lower prices on medical appointments and prescriptions, telehealth offers discretion and privacy. With telehealth platforms like Hims, Wisp, and Roman, patients don’t have to discuss anything they’re nervous about face-to-face. Communicating virtually with a doctor about the more sensitive issues can be more comfortable for patients who’d rather skip those awkward in-person convos.
Many telehealth platforms, including Sesame, offer both virtual and in-person appointments. With this option, you have the convenience of telehealth and the ability to easily book face-to-face appointments – all through a single platform. This can also allow patients to mix-and-match virtual and in-person appointments, depending on the situation or preferences.
What is Sesame Care?
Sesame is a DTC telehealth platform offering virtual appointments, in-person appointments, and prescriptions from doctors and specialists (including dentists, mental health professionals, dermatologists, and many, many more). The standout feature of this platform is the transparency of the out-of-pocket cost for every appointment or prescription before you book or purchase. This cost clarity is lacking all too often in the U.S.’s medical system, making Sesame a breath of fresh air for patients today.
What types of medical conditions does Sesame treat?
Unlike other telehealth platforms that only feature limited options for medical appointments or treatments, Sesame offers a wide assortment of medical care. While these care types can vary based on location, patients in many areas can use Sesame as a one-stop shop for all of the healthcare services that they need.
The main types of care available from Sesame include:
- Prescription refills
- Urgent care
- Mental health
- Sexual health
- Women’s health
- Men’s health
Honestly, if we were to list all of their care options, you’d be here all day. To offer you a quick snapshot, Sesame has over 10,000 doctors representing more than 80 different specialties. Basically, almost any condition that you can think of has a qualified doctor available for treatment through Sesame. Another great feature offered is the reimbursement of your cost if one of their doctors is unable to treat your symptoms and a recommendation to another reliable telehealth platform or doctor in your area.
Sesame’s website makes it easy to find the kinds of care and services available to you. By first filtering by location, you can check all of the available care categories in your area under “Types of Care”. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in your region, you can conveniently contact customer service directly via their online chat, and one of their specialists will make sure you receive the care you require.
How do I get a prescription from Sesame?
Prescriptions, both new and refills, are available with SesameRx, the pharmacy division of Sesame Care. While SesameRx is not a pharmacy, they facilitate the delivery of prescription medication by its partner, Truepill pharmacy as part of its prescription services.
SesameRx offers $5 medications with free delivery for patients with a Basic or Plus membership, making it one of the cheapest options for generic meds. Sesame’s prescription prices consistently beat GoodRx and CVS pharmacy, which are already among the most affordable pharmacy options today. With their consistent offering of $5 medications, you don’t have to worry about fluctuating costs – and with the Basic membership free to sign up for, we think it’s worth it for these ultra-low prescription prices.
SesameRx’s $5 generic medications include those used to treat the following diseases:
- High blood pressure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Birth control
- Hair loss
- Cold sores
- Acid reflux
To get a prescription through SesameRx, you’ll first need to book an appointment with a doctor to discuss your condition. Your doctor can provide you with an appropriate prescription, and Sesame sends a payment link. Your meds will then be delivered straight to your door and can be automatically refilled – at the same low cost.
Believe it or not, the benefits don’t end with the pricing! Included in the $5 prescription cost of SesameRx is:
- Symptom assessment
- FDA-approved medication
- Free delivery – easy tracking to check the status of your prescription
- Dedicated customer support in English and Spanish
How does Sesame Care work?
Here’s how the Sesame platform works:
- Choose the type of care you need. Sesame can connect you with a primary care physician, a pharmacy to refill your prescription, a dentist if you have a toothache, you name it.
- When you’ve found the one you’re looking for, simply click the link. You’ll be led to a page with dozens of doctors available for appointments in the next few weeks, depending on your location. Sesame has a stringent vetting process in place to ensure that the doctor you choose is the best of the best.
- Each doctor has their own set of expertise and fees. Because Sesame is a direct-to-patient platform, you will pay your doctor directly, avoiding all of the hassles that come with traditional insurance.
- After you’ve decided on a doctor, you’ll schedule an appointment at a time that’s convenient for you. Appointments can be scheduled immediately for urgent needs or in the future if it’s not as pressing.
- Booking an appointment only takes 2 minutes and requires details about yourself and the reason for your visit. Payment for your appointment is also required at this time, which avoids any hidden fees, charges, or other nonsense.
The process is as straightforward as it can be. Another advantage is that you can cancel your appointment up to 24 hours in advance and receive a full refund – no questions asked!
How much does Sesame Care cost?
Sesame operates on a direct-to-patient basis and is intended to be accessible and affordable to anyone, with most services beginning at $25 per visit. Because each doctor sets his or her own fees, the cost will vary depending on your doctor. Patients can see what they will be paying for upfront, regardless of insurance status, with no unexpected or hidden expenses.
Where is Sesame Care available?
Currently, Sesame telehealth is only available in the following states (but with plans to expand to other states over time):
- New York
- North Carolina
SesameRx, however, is available for $5 medications with free delivery to all 50 states!
What do you get with a Sesame Care membership?
Sesame’s membership plans were designed to help regular Sesame customers save even more money on their medical bills. There is a free membership (Basic) as well as a paid membership (Plus), which costs $7 per month.
There are a handful of foundation benefits that all members, both Basic and Plus, get to enjoy. These include access to $5 prescriptions with free delivery, exclusive promotions and discounts, and Sesame concierge. Both Basic and Plus members get a 20% welcome discount on the first visit.
What are Sesame Plus benefits?
At just $7 per month, Sesame Plus offers the following exclusive benefits:
- 25% off virtual and in-person primary care visits
- 10% off over 40 specialist appointments, including therapists and dermatologists
- 5% off dental cleanings and visits
- 1 free lab or blood test per year ($65 value)
You can cancel your Plus membership at any time, at which point you’ll return to all of the free benefits of a Basic membership.
What is Sesame concierge?
Sesame concierge is an exclusive benefit for members that takes the work out of finding the right doctor or specialist by creating a match based on your needs. With over 10,000 doctors on the platform, their team can find you exactly what you need. If the service or appointment you’re looking for isn’t available in your area, the team can use its large network of providers not listed on Sesame to get you the care that you need.
Does Sesame Care accept insurance?
If you have insurance, you may want to consider Sesame to simplify the process of finding affordable medical care. Even with insurance, patients often have to go to great lengths just to find a local, in-network provider. Sesame allows you to book whatever appointment you need at a low, upfront cost. This can save you time, money, and (let’s face it) a serious headache.
Sesame accepts payment through your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA).
Sesame can also help patients with insurance get the care that they need for less than their deductibles. Deductibles today are often higher than what patients are willing to spend, making Sesame a viable option to help you stay within budget.
Can I use Sesame without insurance?
Even without insurance, Sesame spares patients from exorbitant medical costs and surprise bills. By telling you exactly what your out-of-pocket cost will be before you even book an appointment, this platform allows you to make sure that the medical care you receive is within your budget.
Comparing Sesame to other DTC telehealth platforms: Sesame vs Forward vs PlushCare vs Parsley Health
Sesame is by no means the only DTC telehealth platform out there today. To get a sense of its standing among other leading telehealth providers, we compared it to Forward, PlushCare, and Parsley.
Best DTC telehealth platforms: Sesame vs Forward vs Plushcare vs Parsley Health
|Online or in-person?||Both||Both||Online only||Both|
|Works with insurance companies?||❌||❌||✅||❌|
|Choose your own doctor?||✅||✅||✅||✅|
|Average in-platform prescription cost?||$5, free shipping||Price dependent on insurance and local pharmacy costs||Medication delivery program is $99/month||N/A|
|Monthly membership fee||$7 (free membership also available)||$149||$14.99||$179|
Forward vs Sesame Care
Forward differs from Sesame Care in the long vs short-term approach. Forward’s main focus is the prevention of long-term health risks. With ongoing care, this platform aims to keep its patients healthy long into the future. A Forward membership, which costs a flat fee of $149 per month for all services, includes goal setting with your doctor, extensive in-app health monitoring, doctor check-ins, and labs and biometric scans, along with virtual and in-person appointments.
Forward offers a variety of doctor-led programs that are included with the membership, including COVID-19 care, stress and anxiety, cancer prevention, and more. Sesame has more of an “a la carte” approach, in which patients pick and choose the appointments that they need at the time they need them.
Patients seeking long-term, preventative care will likely prefer Forward’s approach to telehealth. For those who don’t want to spend $149 every month on healthcare and would rather pay a low per-appointment price, Sesame is a smarter choice.
PlushCare vs Sesame Care
The biggest difference between PlushCare and Sesame is the range of solutions and options offered. PlushCare focuses exclusively on telemedicine appointments to provide patients with medical care, straight from their smartphones. Patients get unlimited messaging with their dedicated doctors and care teams within the PlushCare app. They can also send prescriptions to local pharmacies for pickup and offer a medication delivery service for their in-platform meds for $99 a month.
Compared to Sesame, PlushCare is lacking the option of in-person appointments, a complete range of specialty appointments, and free prescription delivery. All that said, PlushCare is relatively affordable – whether you’re insured or uninsured, the membership costs $14.99 per month or $99 per year. This includes unlimited in-app messaging, access to the online care team, and online same-day appointment booking. For insured patients, the first visit costs the amount of their co-pay, while uninsured patients pay $119.
Parsley Health vs Sesame Care
The main difference between Parsley Health and Sesame is the approach to treatment. Parsley Health is a holistic telemedicine platform, meaning they combine functional medicine (genetic and lifestyle factors) with conventional medicine, to tackle the root of patients’ symptoms. The platform provides in-depth testing, analysis, and a personalized health plan to treat a broad range of conditions, including hormonal, mental health, and skin concerns.
While Sesame is designed to match patients with doctors and specialists for all of their medical needs, Parsley Health is more of a standalone service. Parsley recommends that patients see a primary care physician outside of the platform for basics like vaccinations and testing, and to seek out specialists, like an OBGYN, for regular check-ins.
Parsley Health could be a good fit if you’re looking for a convenient way to try a holistic medicine for specific symptoms. Keep in mind that it costs $175 per month (or $1,850 per year), so it’s not the cheapest way to take care of your medical needs.
If you would like to find out more about the best primary care membership platforms, read our head-to-head comparison review of Forward vs Parsley Health vs One Medical.
Sesame Care reviews: What are patients saying?
We dug into what current patients are saying about Sesame to find outstanding customer ratings and high satisfaction rates. This isn’t surprising with their combination of inexpensive, fast, and accessible virtual doctor appointments and prescriptions. Have a look:
Not all customers have had such a flawless experience, however. A few report communication issues with their doctor and pharmacy, but overall these are very rare. Sesame’s Care team appears very responsive — at least via social media — which gives us confidence that they handle any issues that arise in order to guarantee that patients’ demands are addressed.
The verdict: Is Sesame legit?
Let’s get down to it: is Sesame worth trying? From our standpoint, Sesame is a stellar option for patients, whether insured or not, to find affordable healthcare services with upfront prices. This platform lets patients say goodbye to surprise medical bills and varying prescription prices. With a huge range of specialists on the platform, you can check off every appointment on your healthcare need list with Sesame.
In comparison to many other DTC telehealth platforms, you are not at the discretion of the doctor’s next availability; instead, you get to choose what time and date work best for your schedule, and you rarely have to leave the house to receive the care you require, depending on your preferences.
We also love that Sesame offers both in-person and video appointments from a single platform. After all, not all medical concerns are the same – some can be addressed virtually while others require a physical examination. By providing both options, Sesame makes sure that all of your needs are addressed. Additionally, if you require a prescription, lab, or imaging work at an affordable price, Sesame works with local and national imaging centers and labs to ensure that the testing is completed at your convenience.
If you’re sick of high medical costs, we recommend looking into signing up for a Sesame membership. You have the advantage of a free membership with Sesame Basic, and they frequently run discounts (20% off at the time of publication) so there’s little risk in giving it a go!
Have you tried Sesame’s telehealth platform? Let us know how it went in the comments below!
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