5 payers waiving telehealth visit costs during coronavirus pandemic 

As the novel coronavirus continues to spreads, health insurers are beginning to expand coverage for members using telehealth. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 69,197 cases and 1,046 deaths have been reported in the U.S.. Globally, 487,648 cases and 22,030 deaths have been reported, as of 8:50 a.m., CDT, March 26. 

Here are five payers that recently waived costs associated with telehealth visits:

1. UnitedHealthcare, effective March 18, allowed all eligible, in-network medical providers who use live videoconferencing to connect with their patients for COVID-19-related visits to do so without member cost-sharing for 90 days. The health plan also is allowing members to use their existing telehealth offered through UnitedHealthcare’s designated partners for free. 

2. Blue Shield of California on March 16 announced it will waive copays and coinsurance for most of its members who use Teladoc Health’s virtual care services.

3. Aetna until June 4 will waive member cost-sharing for any covered telehealth visits, including COVID-19 screening and diagnosis. The payer is also waiving copays for telehealth visits of all Aetna Medicare Advantage members. 

4. Humana on March 24 announced it is waiving member cost share for all telehealth services delivered by participating, in-network providers. The payer will temporarily reimburse telehealth visits with providers at the same rate as in-office visits, and it is also temporarily accepting audio-only telephone visits to be reimbursed as telehealth visits. 

5. Premera Blue Cross is waiving cost shares for all medically necessary COVID-19 treatment telehealth services, as well as telehealth appointments for members enrolled in PPO plans, effective March 24. The insurer partnered with 98point6 and Doctor on Demand to deliver text and video-based virtual care to its members for at least 90 days. 

More articles on telehealth: 
Telehealth, psychiatry a good match for some ED patients: Q&A with Vituity physicians
Nemours' telehealth visits jump 1,110% in one week: 4 insights on the health system's strategy during coronavirus pandemic
How California is using telehealth despite limited availability across the US

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