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Will Health Insurers Start Competing With Teladoc?

By Taylor Carmichael - Updated Jun 29, 2021 at 3:17PM

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Teladoc's amazing success in virtual healthcare has caused other healthcare companies to want to enter the market with their own solution. Even some insurance companies are getting in on the act.

Virtual healthcare is going to be faster and cheaper than brick-and-mortar alternatives. During the pandemic lockdown, virtual healthcare has been an absolute necessity. And so Teladoc Health (TDOC -6.16%) is seeing amazing growth right now: 150% revenue growth in the most recent quarter. This amazing market opportunity is bringing in new competitors like Amazon (AMZN -2.86%) and Walmart (WMT -1.47%). Even health insurers like Cigna (CI 0.72%) are starting to compete with Teladoc.

In this Fool Live clip, recorded on May 14, Corinne Cardina, the healthcare and cannabis bureau chief at Fool.com, and Motley Fool writer Taylor Carmichael talk about the competition for health insurance, and how it might affect the telehealth vertical. 

Corinne Cardina: We have another Teladoc question in Slido I'm going to throw out. Some Lawyer Guy, that's the username. "Do we know if Teladoc is in-network with the major insurers or not?" Then he said BCBS, UnitedHealth, Cigna. I looked at Teladoc's website, and they cite 70 global insurance and financial services firms as partners. I will say that Cigna has actually launched its own video chat with doctors. Some of these insurers are looking at saying, can we do this ourselves? Do we need to pay Teladoc? Can't we just set our existing network up with HIPAA-compliant video. It doesn't seem like that has been too much of a hurdle for some of these insurers. For Some Lawyer Guy, I will say they do have a nice, healthy network of insurers, but some of these insurers are going it alone.

Taylor Carmichael: That's bizarre actually. I did not know that Cigna was doing that.

Cardina: They announced it in 2020. I don't know how it's gone since then.

Carmichael: Usually when you offer health insurance to people, you're offering them third-party hospitals and doctors. You're not saying, we have our own doctors. I don't know if that works for me. I'd be like, Yeah, I want the regular doctor. I don't want your doctors. That's weird to have a health insurance company trying to move into the vertical.

Cardina: We're seeing more and more of this consolidation now. Like CVS Health is now a health insurance. I think they have a PBM that they bought. I think it's not going to be uncommon to see more and more of this consolidation.

Carmichael: That's a good point. Amazon is the king of convergence. They're the king of bringing in these various things. I think with Teladoc it's a very complicated story in the sense that they do have a lot of walk-ins. They do have a lot of people just coming in and paying their fee just for one-time thing. They don't have the relationships that are so important to a lot of people in the healthcare space. They have to get insurers on board as part of it. But it's such a huge opportunity, bringing healthcare online. It's quicker, it's faster, 24/7 healthcare, it's a tremendous market opportunity for them.

Cardina: It is. It's probably not a winner take-all market either. Globally, the healthcare market, telehealth right now, has only had a small bite of it. There's an enormous opportunity to take more and more of this virtually, especially when you look at more rural areas and places where hospital systems aren't on every corner like it seems like it is in DC and North Carolina where I spend my time. We can very much see Teladoc continuing to just explode over the long term, and Amwell and GoodRx, [inaudible] and Walmart and Amazon. I'm sure we will probably see more partnerships and more consolidation as we go along. But don't count Teladoc out yet is my bottom-line here from all of this news in the telehealth.

Carmichael: Absolutely. Now, I'm very bullish on Teladoc health. It's not a bad idea to own Amazon too, by the way.

Cardina: If you can afford it.

Carmichael: You can afford one share, Corinne, come one, one share.

Cardina: I have to cash in my whole portfolio. [LAUGHTER]

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Corinne Cardina owns shares of Teladoc Health. Taylor Carmichael owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Amwell, and Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool recommends GoodRx Holdings, Inc. and recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon and short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Teladoc Health, Inc. Stock Quote
Teladoc Health, Inc.
TDOC
$32.90 (-6.16%) $-2.16
Amazon.com, Inc. Stock Quote
Amazon.com, Inc.
AMZN
$138.23 (-2.86%) $-4.07
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Stock Quote
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
WMT
$137.02 (-1.47%) $-2.05
American Well Corporation Stock Quote
American Well Corporation
AMWL
$4.37 (-6.02%) $0.28
GoodRx Holdings, Inc. Stock Quote
GoodRx Holdings, Inc.
GDRX
$6.00 (-5.51%) $0.35
Cigna Corporation Stock Quote
Cigna Corporation
CI
$292.98 (0.72%) $2.09

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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