AUSTIN (KXAN) – Nick Soman was frustrated with insurance. “I was paying more for health insurance for my family of four than for rent, which is just out of control,” he says. “A lot of what we were spending money on was that call when your three-year-old is coughing a little bit.”

Mr. Soman started his own healthcare company: Decent. In order to keep costs low, he turned toward telemedicine. “We’re kind of getting used to being able to take care of things from our homes, and virtual direct primary care will let you do that.”

Decent is one of the first healthcare companies to offer a “virtual direct primary care” plan. That means telemedicine isn’t on the side, it’s the main course, which keeps costs low.

Telemedicine’s growing influence

According to InTouch Health, experts estimate that the telemedicine industry will be worth $3.5 billion by 2022.

Many companies now offer telemedicine services in addition to normal plans. Earlier this year, Amazon announced plans to offer their employees a telemedicine option. They will start with a pilot program for their Seattle employees. 

Advantages and disadvantages for telemedicine

Here’s how telemedicine works: You’re assigned a certified medical professional. They can prescribe you medicine, but you have to schedule an appointment. If there is a medical emergency, you still have to go to the emergency room. If you need to visit a specialist, you’ll have to pay a co-pay.

Decent only offers their plan to self-employed Central Texans and their families. This includes business owners, free lancers, and independent contractors.