Does Your Plan Cover Telemedicine? Most Don’t Know

With more and more patients, providers, and health care organizations seeking to utilize telemedicine services, a new survey has shed light on widespread uncertainty among patients about whether or not their insurance plans actually provide telemedicine coverage. As Markets Insider first reported, data from a HealthMine survey showed that the majority (57 percent) of Medicare plan members aged 65-plus are unsure about whether their plan covers telemedicine care, with an additional 31 percent reporting that their plan doesn’t provide such coverage.

Conducted in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which have disrupted some patients’ access to care and have seen many relying on telemedicine services, the HealthMine survey collected data from 500 people enrolled in various Medicare plans. Beyond the uncertainty surrounding telemedicine coverage, the survey also found that many patients—79 percent of survey respondents—are not able to easily access their electronic health records. “These hurricanes have underscored the importance of every person being digitally connected to their health,” HealthMine CEO Bryce Williams said in a press release accompanying the survey’s findings. “We are working hand-in-hand with health plans to accelerate digital processes and analytics.” The HealthMine team also found that a plurality of Medicare enrollees (48 percent) prefer to communicate with their health plan over the phone, with 31 percent indicating that they would rather opt for digital communication and 21 percent preferring paper mail.

The survey comes in a year that’s seen new efforts, including on Capitol Hill, to expand Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine services (see the next story for more on this). Currently, the program places significant geographic and other restrictions on telemedicine reimbursement. While many advocates have been urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to loosen these restrictions, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) is in the process of conducting a study examining the feasibility of expanded reimbursement.

Click here to view the article from Markets Insider on the HealthMine study.

Click here to visit the HealthMine Web site.

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