A large insurer is paying for more plan members to consult with physicians through the Internet.

Aetna Inc., has agreed to provide coverage for plan members in Washington state who seek care through a physician-patient Internet communications system developed by RelayHealth, Emeryville, Calif.

RelayHealth helps patients ask doctors questions through the Web and also gives patients the ability to make appointments, arrange for prescription refills, and get lab results electronically.

RelayHealth consultations are covered automatically for fully insured employer plan members. Self-insured employers can decide for themselves whether to cover RelayHealth sessions.

Aetna began covering online consultations in California and Florida in 2006.