CHAPEL HILL – Got a cold? Fever? Think you need to see a doctor but don’t want to go to emergency care or the hospital? UNC Health Care is offering a new service that will connect you virtually to a real doctor any time in North Carolina for $49 or less.

Yes, the doctor is always “in” via phone, table or computer, ready to make a house call. It could save you time and money.

UNC Urgent Care 24/7 went live for the general public on Tuesday after being tested through deployment with UNC Health Care workers over the past few months.

The cost could be considerably less than a visit to urgent care and take less time, according to online information from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. BCBSNC estimates:

  • $59 cost, 60 minutes per visit (not including travel time) for urgent care
  • $667, 2 1/2 hours (not including travel time) for emergency room visit
  • Costs vary for a visit to the doctor’s visit depending on your copay and insurance plan with an average visit time of 40 minutes (not including travel time)

There are also “health lines” that may be covered by insurance.

When to use UNC Urgent Care

However, UNC Health stressed that the new service is not intended for life-threatening situations such as a possible heart attack.

“Appropriate conditions include allergies, coughs, fever, headaches, nausea, insect bites, pink eye, sore throat, rash, vomiting and more,” UNC Health says.

“A virtual care doctor connects with patients by phone or Internet through a private and secure connection. The physician can diagnose problems, recommend treatment and write prescriptions when appropriate.”

Final cost depends on patients’ insurance coverage.

“This innovative virtual technology fits with our mission of providing care to all North Carolinians at any time,” said Dr. Bill Roper, CEO of UNC Health Care, in announcing the service.

“We expect that this service will increase access to affordable urgent care, especially in underserved and rural parts of our state. We firmly believe that the future of medical care has to include more telehealth options.”

UNC is working with MDLIVE, a national provider of virtual medicine services and software, to offer the program.

The service can be accessed via a website or through an app that can be downloaded for Apple and Android devices.