Wednesday morning, congress voted on a new extension for telehealth flexibilities. The omnibus bill will
focus on Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services throughout the pandemic. It extends the
current policy an addiction five months as it was set to expire in April. It’s believed that private
insurance companies will also apply this option for their clients.
The benefits of telehealth have been felt both by patients and medical professionals and facilities as the
pandemic has forced millions to adapt to safer forms of medical care. Many insurance plans were not
prepared for telehealth use in 2020 but most providers have adapted since the start of the pandemic
and now cover the service as part of their basic coverage options.
Impact From Covid-19
Telehealth was a slowly growing field before the pandemic. Since 2020 however, the field has boomed
and is responsible for billions in healthcare costs. The benefits are easy to understand as patients are
able to get care from the safety of their home and doctors can see more patients directly as
consultations would not require long waiting and processing times. Telehealth services include coverage
for mental and physical health needs and can be offered by a variety of physicians and facilities.
Congress Grants 5-Month Extension Of Telehealth Services
The extension is big news for those who are now relying on telehealth care. Interestingly enough, it’s
not only a benefit as far as protection from covid-19 spreading, but it’s also allowing patients to get care
without missing work. Because of inflation, many people between the ages of 65-70 have returned to
work or providing assistance to their families to help save costs. With this added responsibility, the
ability to get care over the phone is increasingly beneficial to these patients. Here are some other
interesting benefits and notes of the extension:
Available for Medicare members: The bill does specifically focus on Medicare members and also
covers multiple types of consultations like some audio visits and other types of care needed.
There are some requirements for mental health care, including requiring in-person visits within
six months of the most recent telehealth appointment.
New research into the benefits: The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has been
recommended to research the impact of telehealth utilization for Medicare members, program
expenditures and more. The Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services will also provide date on
claims for these services throughout the quarter.
Faster patient care: One of the benefits that was commonly mentioned by both patients and
medical care providers was the speed of which the patients were able to be assisted. Facilities
were able to see more patients throughout the day and were more on time for appointments.
Improve patient safety: The ability to have a consultation from the comfort of their own home
has also benefited Medicare members in protection from covid-19. The service was most
popular at the time of shutdowns during the pandemic and allowed millions of people to get
needed care and keep themselves and healthcare workers safe.
The impact of the bill could lead to a longer and more extensive relationship with telehealth services.
Several doctors’ offices have considered adding telehealth services as an extension to their full-time
services in an effort to affordable expand their practice and see more patients. This can be especially
beneficial for patients who need quick refills on their medications and are due for a consultation.
What’s Next For Medicare Members
Because of inflation, costs have increased heavily for Medicare members, and they are seeking ways to
save and still get the quality care they need. The hope is that this bill will lead to an expansion of
different options that will be utilize technology to offer improved service and care to patients
throughout the country. It may also potentially lower costs and provide benefits like:
Prescription availability: The inflation issues have been made more frustrating due to the
materials shortage. This includes the production of several medications. Patients are waiting for
prescriptions to be filled and may need to try different pharmacies around their area. Online
capabilities will make it easier to find where a medication is in stock and how to get it.
Delivery options: Minimizing the spread of covid-19 while also ensuring that a patient gets their
medication, even if they struggle with mobility or transportation is a big part of the telehealth
plan. In addition to that, many pharmacies are now offering delivery options including shipping
your medication through the mail.
Easier technology: Another reason for telehealth to continue to grow is because of the
familiarity and advancements in technology. Doctors and patients are able to communicate
easier now with the use of technology. For doctor’s offices, this would previously have been a
major expense and require the doctor to learn advanced technology. Now they can get
important medical information and speak with the patient virtually.
Improved care: Even retired people stay busy and the fact is that people push doctors
appointments because they have stuff they need to or want to do. One of the best benefits of
telehealth is that some doctors are able to get more frequent communication with their patients
and provide them care because they are able to meet virtually.
If you are working and over the age of 65, you know the challenges of missing work so that you can go to
the doctor, especially if you rely on others for transportation. If you can cut back on one or two doctors
visits and replace them with telehealth options, it’s completely worth it. The industry is focusing on a
more virtual-friendly platform that allows you to select health insurance coverages, medications,
doctors and even medical tests you would like to take virtually.
This shift has even improved in-house care as waiting rooms are less crowded and patients are able to
get their consultations and exams taken care of in a shorter period of time. Ideally, the extension will
open the door for more companies and medical care facilities to incorporate telehealth services. This
would extend the options patients have and allow them to get faster and better care for a more