COVID-19 pandemic spurred new telehealth deals with employers: 5 insights

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Most employers expanded telehealth offerings for their employees since the start of the pandemic, with 1 in 10 large firms inking new deals with telehealth providers, according to a Nov. 10 Kaiser Family Foundation report.

For its study, the Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed 1,686 nonfederal companies from January to July 2021, according to a Nov. 10 news release. Another 2,413 companies responded to a single question about offering coverage.

Five survey insights:

  1. Among companies with at least 200 employees that offer telehealth benefits, 79 percent made changes to their telehealth benefits. At these companies, 27 percent reduced or eliminated cost-sharing for telehealth services. Thirty-five percent of these companies expanded the number of services covered through virtual care.

  2. More than one-third (36 percent) of these companies added modes of delivering virtual care for their employees. Twenty-eight percent of these companies expanded the setting so their employees could use telehealth services.

  3. One in 10 companies with more than 200 employees that offered telehealth inked new deals with telehealth providers.

  4. Among companies with at least 50 employees that offer health benefits, 39 percent made changes to their mental health and substance abuse offerings since the start of the pandemic. Thirty-one percent of the 39 percent increased access through telehealth.

  5. More than half (55 percent) of companies with at least 50 employees that offer health benefits made changes to their wellness programs because of the pandemic. Forty-three percent of those firms expanded virtual counseling services, 22 percent altered existing programs to be offered remotely and 17 percent added a digital program.

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