Medicare pays just 9 cents per patient per year on telemedicine

Medicare spending on telemedicine falls below the allotted funds the government payer can spend on virtual visits, according to a recent study in Telemedicine journal and e-health.

Researchers examining Medicare claims data from 2012 found total Medicare telemedicine-related expenditures equaled approximately $5 million, which uses 65.2 percent of the total allowed $7.7 million dedicated to telemedicine-related charges.

According to researchers, this breaks down to $0.09 per Medicare enrollee per year is spent on telemedicine.

The majority of Medicare telemedicine spending (70 percent) was directed to professional fees for mental health services and service providers.

"Medicare spending on telemedicine is largely for mental health services and represents only a tiny fraction of overall Medicare spending. Adoption of telehealth is driven by multiple factors beyond need and rurality," the study authors concluded.

According to a Kaiser Health News report, less than 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries use telemedicine services. However, this lack of use partly stems from reimbursement restrictions and rules for when and where telemedicine services can be offered.

More articles on telemedicine:

10 top uses for telemedicine, according to physicians
Survey: Telemedicine is most useful in these 10 specialties
Cleveland Clinic, American Well partner for 24-hour telemedicine

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