Medical Advice Messages in MyUCSDChart
Messaging your health care provider through MyUCSDChart can be a convenient way to get non-urgent medical advice.
You can send a note or questions when you have time, and providers typically respond within one to three business days. This can sometimes be a good alternative to an in-person appointment or video visit.
Cost of Medical Advice Through MyUCSDChart
Most MyChart messages and responses are free. But as of April 2022, messages may be billed to your insurance if the response requires medical expertise and more than a few minutes of time from a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, optometrist or certified nurse midwife.
Your provider will determine whether a message exchange should be billed to insurance. See examples below of what does and doesn't count as billable medical advice messaging.
Your out-of-pocket expense will depend on your health insurance plan. Some patients may not need to pay anything. Others may pay a co-payment, similar to what applies for an in-person appointment or a video visit. If you have a deductible, you may be charged the full amount of a visit.
To learn about your out-of-pocket expenses, contact your insurer. They may ask for a "CPT code" to identify the type of visit. You can tell them that the relevant codes are 99421, 99422 and 99423, depending on the amount of time your provider spends handling a message. (Medi-Cal uses the code G2012 and does not charge out-of-pocket costs.)
If you have questions about a message that has been billed, you can call us at 855-827-3633, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday. Or from MyUCSDChart, go to Billing Summary and and use the links to send a question electronically.
What Is Considered Medical Advice Messaging?
Messages may be considered medical advice (also called an "e-visit") when:
- They relate to an established patient
- The provider needs to make a clinical assessment or medical decision, order a test or medication, or review your medical history in order to respond
- It takes more than a few minutes to respond
Examples of these types of messages include:
- A new issue or symptom that requires medical assessment or referral
- Adjusting medications
- Chronic disease check-in
- Flare-up or change in chronic condition
What Is Not Considered Medical Advice Messaging?
If a message doesn't require clinical evaluation or medical advice, or if it can be answered quickly or easily, it won't be billed to insurance. Examples of message exchanges that are not considered e-vists and will not be billed include:
- Messages that are an extension of routine patient care, such as lab results, simple prescription refill requests and follow-ups initiated by your health care provider
- Requests to schedule an appointment
- A message that leads your provider to recommend an in-person or video visit
- Follow-up related to recent surgery (within the past 90 days), with exceptions for some surgeries
- Updates for your provider when no response is needed
- Additional messages related to a previous message that was considered medical advice. (Messages related to the same medical issue and exchanged over the following seven days are bundled into one charge.)
Why Are Some Messages Now Billed to Insurance?
Messaging health care providers has become a popular way to seek medical advice. Insurance companies now recognize that virtual care is an important way for patients to get health care advice. They now cover all of the following:
- In-person visits
- Video visits
- Telephone visits
- Medical advice messaging (through MyUCSDChart)
While most messages are handled quickly and will not be billed to insurance, we are pleased to offer you a range of telehealth options for receiving health care through UC San Diego Health.
If you have a life-threatening medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Department.
Our ER locations in San Diego County are open 24 hours every day.
How to Message Your Health Care Provider
You can only send messages to providers you have previously seen during an office appointment, a procedure visit, a hospital visit or a telehealth visit. You can also send a MyChart message to any doctor you are scheduled to see in the next seven days.
Use MyChart messaging only for non-urgent messages to your clinic. (If you are having a medical emergency, dial 911.) Please be aware that your doctor may have an associate help respond to messages, and MyUCSDChart messages become a permanent part of your medical record.