Medicare continues to expand telemedicine and telehealth services. As virtual care becomes more necessary, doctors and patients look for Medicare to cover services.
Today, telemedicine and Medicare benefits continue to expand. Part B includes more telehealth services than ever before.
In the content below, we’ll discuss how and when Medicare coverage works with telemedicine.
Medicare Telemedicine Services in 2020
Telemedicine is a remote clinical service. Doctors must use live, real-time audio and video connections to interact with patients.
The location during the time of service must be in a patient’s home or an allowable facility. There are no location restrictions for Doctors.
Medicare Advantage Telemedicine
Advantage Plans in 2020 are full of telemedicine benefits, some more than Medicare. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 changed Medicare Advantage telemedicine benefits.
Medicare allows and encourages plans to include telemedicine benefits. Costs of telemedicine services and office visits are comparable under Advantage Plans.
For example, if you’re video conferencing a primary care doctor, you’ll likely pay less than if you’re video-chatting with a specialist.
Be sure to contact your policy to get the most out of coverage.
Medicare Telehealth Parity Act
The Medicare Telehealth Parity Act has expanded. Now, the federal healthcare program covers more virtual care services than before.
The bill also increased the approved locations for both originating and distant sites. Also, the 2017 Act initiated remote patient-monitoring for those with chronic conditions.
Two years earlier, Congress introduced The Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015. The bill opened the doors of opportunity for better delivery of healthcare.
Further, the bill included in-home telehealth as a qualifying originating state. Qualifying beneficiaries may obtain medical care from home.
Telehealth vs. Telemedicine
Telehealth is the broad scope of care that includes telemedicine. Telemedicine includes clinical services. Whereas telehealth consists of both clinical and non-clinical services.
For example, doctor training and administrative meetings would fall under telehealth. And, a virtual follow up doctor’s visit would be telemedicine.
To make things more complicated, the World Health Organization uses the term “telematics” to describe health activities that take place via communication technology. Telematics is both telemedicine and telehealth.
So, all telemedicine is telehealth. But not all telehealth is telemedicine. And, telematics is both.
How Much Does Telemedicine Cost
How much does telemedicine cost and, is it cost-effective? Both answers may vary among patients.
On average, telehealth costs about $79 per visit. Of course, costs depend on insurance carriers or plan types.
Telemedicine costs are similar to standard copayment costs of healthcare.
Medicare telemedicine authorized originating sites to include:
- Critical Access Hospitals
- Home of a beneficiary with End-Stage Renal Disease getting home dialysis
- Hospital-based Renal Dialysis Centers
- Renal Dialysis Facilities
- Doctor’s Offices
- Community Mental Health Centers
- Rural Health Clinics
- Federally Qualified Health Centers
- Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Mobile stroke units
- Community mental health centers
To qualify for benefits, Part B requires you to meet both of the following:
- You must live in a health professional shortage area
- And you must receive care at a health facility that falls under one of the above categories
Medicare Telehealth Benefits Expand as Coronavirus Cases Grow
Medicare is working hard to ease the burden of the COVID-19 crisis. From testing to treatment, Medicare is taking necessary steps to help patients across the nation.
In the middle of March, the Trump administration announced an expansion of Medicare telehealth coverage for the coronavirus outbreak. The expansion gives beneficiaries access to doctors without having to travel.
Given that this virus is so contagious, this expansion helps doctors by allowing them to limit exposure. Also, it will enable patients to communicate with doctors without leaving their homes.
States are implementing “stay-at-home” orders, and people still need to see their doctors. These people still need care, even while the “stay at home orders” are in place.
Whether it’s a primary care doctor or a psychological specialist, patients must have access. With telemedicine, a doctor is a virtual call away.
Now, during this time of national emergency and pandemic, beneficiaries can access care virtually. Those that are high-risk will especially benefit from being able to obtain treatment without putting themselves at risk.
If your needs can be met remotely, and you’re high-risk, talk to your doctor about meeting virtually during this crisis.
As of March 6, doctors can use telehealth to treat COVID-19 and other medically reasonable purposes. During this Public Health Emergency, everyone must have the care they need. So, some of the guidelines are more lenient for the time being.
Coinsurances and deductibles apply to telehealth services during this time. Those with an Advantage plan won’t pay for COVID-19 testing, but you need to refer to your policy about the cost of treatment.
Medicare and Telehealth FAQs
Find Your Best Policy Today!
Telehealth and telemedicine give patients access to doctors from a remote location. In times of crisis, this kind of care can be life-saving.
Our agents can help you find your best policy today! We have a team of experts ready to get you the benefits that you deserve.
We compare rates and offer free quotes for plans in your area. Give us a call to find the best policies in your area.
Can’t talk right now? We get it, and we’re here to help make things easier. Complete our online rate form to get the process started.