BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee makes COVID-19 telehealth coverage permanent

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee updated its coverage policies to permanently cover virtual visits with in-network providers.

The insurer began covering telephone and video visits with in-network providers in March to accommodate for social distancing during the pandemic. However, the company has now become the first major insurer to make the changes permanent as part of its efforts to expand access to care.

The insurer will now cover telehealth for primary care providers, specialists, behavioral health providers and occupational, physical and speech therapy as part of its regular policies. During the pandemic, the company made its PhysicianNow virtual services available at no cost through June 30; after that point, the services will be available as a cost-sharing service. Members will also continue to have access to its 24/7 Nurseline services. Other insurers have updated their coverage for telehealth, but limited the timeline for coverage through the pandemic.

Going forward, BlueCross will cover member-to-provider and provider-to-provider telehealth consultations in Tennessee. From March 16 to April 14, it managed 71,000 telehealth claims, which is 18 times more than the claims submitted over the same period in 2019.

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