During COVID-19, telehealth has become one of the safest and most available sources of medical and mental health care. The internet, smart phones, and video chat have made telehealth easier and more accessible.
Telehealth can be a win-win for providers, patients and employers. It provides an alternate source of care for common illnesses (cold, sinus infection, skin irritation, etc.). For members living in underserved rural areas, it offers care without having to take time away from work or travel into a doctor’s office. It is a lower cost option for care, protects providers from exposure to common illnesses, and keeps waiting rooms clear.
Most insurance carriers offer some form of telehealth service such as PhysicianNow, Virtual Visit, or Teladoc at no or reduced member cost share. This is not your personal physician, but the service is a quick turnaround (normally under 30 minutes).
COVID-19 put pressure on telehealth expansion plans. Most insurance carriers have expanded offerings to your personal physician (check with your insurance carrier to confirm). Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee (BCBST) reported 50x more claims for telehealth visits from mid-March to mid-May than the same time last year. BCBST also announced they are making In-Network telehealth services available permanently. CMS (Medicare) has at least temporarily expanded its coverage.
If you have not tried your provider’s telehealth option, this is a great time to do it. Many of our Strate Insurance Group employee benefits clients have been publicizing this resource to their employees to encourage them to take advantage of this service. If you need advice or want an expert to review your employee benefits package, I’d be happy to assist. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call at 423-318-5818, or use the contact form.