Telemedicine has long been thought of mostly as a way to help manage chronic conditions and to expand access to care for people who live far away from providers. The coronavirus outbreak has changed that, spiking demand for telehealth services to never-before-seen levels.
Demand for telemedicine services is only expected to rise in the coming weeks and months. In fact, the use of telemedicine services is now seen as essential in reducing the spread of COVID-19. That’s why a growing number of states have announced new rules requiring insurance companies to waive cost-sharing, including deductibles, copayments or coinsurance for in-network telehealth visits. Telemedicine got an additional boost under an emergency funding measure from Congress, which loosened restrictions on its use to treat people covered under the federal Medicare program.
Although telemedicine is not a complete replacement for direct patient care, hospitals have been expanding their use of telemedicine to screen and treat patients for coronavirus.
In short, telemedicine has proven to be a useful tool for a variety of medical services, especially evaluation, diagnosis and even prescribing treatment.
Typically, a patient is able to communicate from his or her home with a doctor or nurse licensed in their state through a live video, audio or patient data transfer system. Doctors can see the patient and assess his or her symptoms, as well as obtain the patient’s records and medical history from electronic medical records.
Telemedicine is not a full replacement of the care a patient can receive in a doctor’s office but patients can stay in the comfort of their own homes and potentially prevent further illness from exposure to germs in a hospital or clinic.
In addition, patients who are recovering from illness or injury at home can receive ongoing monitoring by their doctors through telemedicine visits.
To prepare for a telemedicine appointment, you should consider several things.
Reduction in cost is another major benefit of telemedicine.
Patients save money for routine care because they don’t have to pay travel expenses for distant doctors. Doctors are also more efficient in the number of patients they can see in a day, which can help reduce overhead and related costs. Finally, remote monitoring can help lessen the much larger cost of long hospitalizations or in-home nursing.
The better news is that in response to the current outbreak, insurers have waived enrollees’ out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 diagnosis and testing, whether by telehealth or in-person.
Click here to learn more about ways health insurance providers are responding to the coronavirus.
Tyler Perry is a CCIG employee benefits insurance advisor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (720) 330-7934.
CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.