Some patients still being billed for telehealth despite changes in insurance regulations 

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While numerous health insurers and state regulators have eliminated telemedicine copays and deductibles during the pandemic, some patients are claiming they are being charged up front for audio and video-based appointments, according to Kaiser Health News

For some patients, physicians are charging for telephone calls that used to be free before the pandemic; others are being billed for the full cost of the visit, not just the copay, even if it is covered by insurance. 

David Dekeyser, a patient in New York, told KHN that he was charged $280 without notification for a virtual visit with a physician for COVID-19 concerns. Mr. Dekeyser was ultimately able to get the bill reversed. 

Despite states promising to waive telehealth fees during the pandemic, insurers were not able to immediately eliminate copays for millions of members who are covered through self-insured employers, according to the report. 

“A lot of the insurers who said that they’re not going to charge copayments for telemedicine ― they haven’t implemented that,” Circe Medical CEO George Favvas said. “That’s starting to hit us right now.” San Francisco-based Circle Medical provides primary care services via telehealth. 

Payers including Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield that are promoting telehealth do not have as much control over altering the telehealth benefits for self-insured employers. The insurance companies said that expanded telehealth benefits don't necessarily apply to this type of plan, which covers more than 100 million Americans, according to the report.

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