During the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, all 50 states and the District of Columbia transitioned to telemedicine, in part due to state emergency orders that mandated the coverage of telehealth visits and waived requirements for out-of-state medical licenses. At the same time, many commercial insurers and government payers expanded telehealth coverage, with many for the first time offering to pay or reimburse for virtual visits at the same rate they did in-person visits.
Telemedicine exploded! According to CDC data, telehealth visits were 154% higher during the last week of March 2020 than the same time period a year earlier.1
Time has run out—we're experiencing telehealth rollbacks and, this has the potential to harm patients and their care. Considering how beneficial it was to have flexible telehealth measures throughout the early stages of the pandemic, patients find it surprising that stronger efforts aren't underway to advocate for continued access to telehealth. On the flip side, some doctors believe there isn't a substitute for in-person treatments and worry that conditions will go misdiagnosed.
But despite this increased use of telehealth, many state emergency orders have already expired—and several insurers have also rolled back expanded telehealth provisions. As of November 2021, 25 states had already ended the emergency declarations that were in place earlier in the pandemic.2
With access to telehealth services at risk, there's a concern for patients who depend on the flexibility and expanded care options.2 A large portion of patients take medications that doctors have monitored via videoconference throughout the pandemic. With telehealth visits ending but the pandemic still a concern, patients are opting to skip appointments and medications putting themselves at risk.
The future of the pandemic and the corresponding telemedicine remain uncertain. New legislation or a hybrid solution could be the answer, but in the meantime, patients are scrambling to get the healthcare they need.3 If you find yourself in this situation, it's imperative that you work out a solution until the industry provides one.
Healthcare needs to be a top priority for everyone and we’re here to help with coverage options and even contacts to industry experts. If you have questions or need help, please call our office right away.
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