When it comes to whether or not insurance will cover telemedicine or Telehealth during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the answer is: “Most likely yes. But you need to double-check.”
With more and more people confined to their homes, it’s no surprise that the need for Telehealth has skyrocketed in the past few weeks. As patients ask for it, and the federal government endorses it, major, almost daily changes are taking place in how insurance companies and state governments view Telehealth visits.
In recent years, telemedicine coverage has largely depended on different regulations in each individual state. The large majority of states had passed “parity laws” requiring insurance providers to cover any aspect of a Telehealth visit that they would normally cover for an in-person visit. Some of the largest states, such as California, Texas, and New York, already were a part of this group. With the advent of the coronavirus, however, the nationwide push towards coverage has surged forward.
Multiple states have begun to pass laws and emergency actions, increasing the mandated coverage of Telehealth. To see a full list, click here to visit the catalog of state actions assembled by The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), a policy resource center devoted to Telehealth.
At the same time, private insurers including Aetna, Cigna, and BlueShield BlueCross have announced they are expanding Telehealth coverage on their own, and even in some cases offering discounts and waiving patient copays.
Meanwhile, Medicare coverage has expanded as well. As part of the recently passed CARES Act, major restrictions and stipulations have lifted, including all rural and geographic limitations. Additionally, FQHCs and RHCs have temporarily been added to the list of eligible providers, and the list of eligible procedures has extended. You can find a full list of covered procedures on the CMS website.
For a detailed breakdown of the continuing Telehealth coverage developments, for all types of insurance, CCHP routinely updates its COVID-19 coverage policies catalog.