Most patients unaware if their insurance covers telehealth

While more telehealth initiatives are popping up across the healthcare space, consumers aren’t as clear on whether their insurance plans actually cover virtual care services.

Almost half–46 percent– of 781 Medicare Advantage (MA) members surveyed by HealthMine said they weren’t sure if their plan offered or recommended online and phone-based services. Just 17 percent noted the services were offered, while 37 percent said telehealth is not offered.

HealthMine, a clinical technology company within a value-based insurance design plan, conducted its HealthMine Medicare Survey of consumers 65 and older with a chronic condition who were enrolled in a MA and/or supplemental plan. The awareness of MA members was slightly higher than in 2017, when 57 percent said they were unsure about telehealth offerigns.

The results come as several new telehealth initiatives have been thrust into the spotlight. CMS recently announced in its 2019 Physician Fee Schedule that it would reimburse virtual care. On the private sector side, CVS also announced a new telehealth service, MinuteClinic Video Visits, for $59 per visit.

While few consumers knew if their plan covered such services, 77 percent of respondents used a smart device and were computer literate.

MA plans are currently awaiting telehealth reimbursement decisions for 2020, as expansions for coverage were included in the budget deal signed by President Donald Trump in early 2018.