Amazon, the mecca for online shopping, took one more step into health care earlier this month when it announced a discounted membership to One Medical for its Prime members. 

One Medical is a company that offers telemedicine services but also has traditional doctors’ offices across the US and referral services for medical procedures its offices can’t take care of. This year, Amazon acquired One Medical in a move to expand its presence in wellness, medicine and primary care. 

The new One Medical benefit gives Prime members the option of paying an extra $9 per month or $99 annually for the service’s medical care, a $100 discount from One Medical’s standard rate. (A Prime membership costs $15 per month, or $139 per year.) Virtual care services through One Medical will be completely free with this membership — regardless of insurance status. The price of in-office visits, which are possible in the smattering of major cities where One Medical has offices, or any subsequent care needed, will depend on the Prime member’s insurance. 

But with a world full of medical and telemedicine companies, an area that ballooned during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve got options. Before you use your Prime membership to sign up for One Medical, here’s what to know about it.

What is One Medical, and what does it treat? 

One Medical is one of many companies offering health care services in a “hybrid” model. That is, it has virtual care services where you can video chat with a provider or message them, plus options for some brick and mortar services if you need to be seen at a clinic. 

The 24/7 chat option One Medical advertises is a new form of the “concierge” or “membership” model of health care, which is supposed to give patients who are able and willing to pay an extra fee more direct access to their doctor. Kind of like a house call for the 21st century. 

Like other telemedicine companies, One Medical won’t be able to give complex diagnoses by way of its app or through the free virtual care service — and you’ll need to be referred out for some in-clinic services. According to One Medical, some of the things it can diagnose or treat virtually (coming at no additional cost for members) are eye problems; some common viruses, like flu; urinary tract infections; minor cuts; some skin problems; and other non-life-threatening or nonserious health problems. Another app feature lets you refill your prescriptions

For people without Amazon Prime, the annual fee is $199. There’s also a financial assistance program for people who meet the criteria, which would require you to send over tax information and pay stubs. 

One Medical stores your health record on your app. This is meant to make it easier for you to move from virtual care to a doctor, or bring your record with you to an actual care location for additional work. 

A person's hands holding a phone with a "doctor appointment" icon.

Isabel Pavia/Getty Images

What isn’t covered for free on One Medical? 

If you need any type of in-clinic service, what you’ll pay depends on your insurance. One Medical accepts most major insurance plans; it also accepts Medicare and certain Medicare Advantage programs. If you need a medication, its price will also depend on your insurance. 

In addition to primary care, One Medical offers specific medical services, including reproductive care and pediatric care in some cities. It also has its own labs for blood work. 

The company says that if you need to be referred to a specialist or another location outside of One Medical’s network, it will assist you in transferring over your records and making the arrangements. How that works, exactly, is unclear. 

How to sign up 

To get the One Medical discount, you need to have a Prime membership, which costs $15 by itself but can bring you benefits outside of health care or free delivery (check out the various benefits here). 

If you have a Prime membership, follow these steps:  

  • Sign up for One Medical through Amazon (you can add up to five family members for an extra $6 each per month).
  • Choose whether you want to pay monthly or annually. 
  • Download the One Medical app.  

What other health care services does Amazon offer? 

Amazon has a health care marketplace called Amazon Clinic, which this year expanded to all 50 states. In partnership with a few telemedicine health care providers, Amazon Clinic allows anyone (you don’t need a Prime account for this) to access very basic primary or urgent care issues. 

As opposed to One Medical, which is its own service and practice that’s meant to establish a patient-provider relationship for members, the Amazon Clinic page is laid out like you’re shopping around for treatment based on health problem. Amazon Clinic and the Prime member benefit for One Medical may be similar concepts, as Forbes reported, but Amazon Clinic is more “on demand” and doesn’t require a monthly membership. 

But that’s not all. Amazon also has its own pharmacy and automatic coupon feature designed to give people discounts on certain drugs, including insulin. This puts it in competition with other major stores or sites that offer discounts on drugs — high drug prices can be a major obstacle to health care access — such as Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs and GoodRx

Is Amazon health care worth it? 

Before signing up for any subscription health care service, like One Medical, it’s probably best to peruse your other options. Sesame Care, for example, is another health care company offering virtual consultations with some in-clinic perks, with an $11 monthly membership. Other companies, like Health Tap or PlushCare, offer monthly memberships that make primary care easier to access, or affordable for people without health insurance. 

When you’re talking about using any health care company (owned by Amazon or not), the most important thing to consider is whether you’re able to get your health needs met and whether the company/doctor’s office you’re using has the ability to manage your care. For example, some telemedicine/hybrid health care companies can prescribe controlled substances (like Adderall), while others can’t.

If you’re thinking about signing up for a health care membership, it may be a good idea to speak with your current provider for suggestions, or make extra phone calls to the health care companies themselves to find out what abilities or restrictions they have regarding whatever it is you’re trying to manage. 


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