CLEVELAND (WJW) — Starting Thursday, Nov. 17, online messages you send to your Cleveland Clinic doctor may be billed to your insurance.

Most messages sent via the MyChart service are free, but starting Thursday, any message that requires a physician’s “clinical time and expertise” to answer may be billed to your insurance, according to a notice MyChart users received.

Those includes messages to which your physician needs more than five minutes to respond, about things like:

  • Changes to your medications
  • New symptoms
  • Changes to a long-term condition
  • Check-ups on your long-term condition care
  • Requests to complete medical forms

“As the use of virtual healthcare services continues to expand, we have seen an increase in our patients choosing MyChart messaging to communicate with their providers,” a Cleveland Clinic spokesperson said in a statement to FOX 8. “The need for providers to offer their expertise through messaging has grown over the last few years, doubling since 2019.”

But not every message will meet that requirement, the spokesperson said. Some examples of messages that won’t be billed include:

  • A prescription refill request
  • A request to schedule an appointment
  • A patient message that leads to a provider recommending a visit
  • A message about follow-up care related to a recent surgery that occurred within the past 90 days
  • A message that takes under five minutes to answer
  • A request preceded by a visit for the same problem in prior seven days
  • A request that results in an appointment for the same problem in the subsequent seven days

How much will it cost?

More insurance providers will cover the messages at little to no cost, according to the notice. But for those with deductibles or plans that don’t cover these messages, they could cost between $33 and $50.

Most Medicare patients won’t pay out-of-pocket, though some might have to pay $3 to $8. Medicare patients with secondary insurance won’t have to pay anything.

Since the expansion of telehealth options, many insurance plans now cover virtual visits, phone calls visits or medical advice given via MyChart, according to the notice.