The telehealth services Blue Cross Blue Shield is making permanent

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, hospitals and health systems raced to figure out how to continue to allow patients access to care. With the pandemic's end getting closer, it leaves many unsure what telehealth services will stick around.

While Blue Cross Blue Shield has not made a companywide announcement on where telehealth stands after the pandemic, its subsidiaries have been individually sharing where they are in their plans.

Seven Blue Cross Blue Shield subsidiaries on telehealth:

  1. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee said it will permanently cover telehealth services moving forward, according to a May 14, 2020, news release. The state's largest insurer's coverage will include member-to-provider and provider-to-provider consultations, as it has seen healthcare providers across the state support these services.

  2. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas said telehealth will become a permanently covered benefit, according to a Jan. 5 news release. The Texas insurer will cover code lists from CMS and the American Medical Association.

  3. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Program last October announced that it would make telemedicine visit coverage permanent as part of its benefits package starting in 2021. The Federal Employee Program will cover virtual consultations and medical evaluation and management services with primary care providers and specialists as a regular benefit, even after the pandemic is over.

  4. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota extended virtual care benefits for its members through the end of 2021, the insurer said Feb. 10. The extensions include virtual care for behavioral health services, physical, speech and occupational therapy, and medication management. The change will affect all fully insured commercial, individual and Medicare plans.

  5. Florida Blue, Florida's BCBS subsidiary, may make telehealth a permanent part of its coverage. Florida Blue CEO Patrick Geraghty told The Associated Press March 28 that after the pandemic fades, telemedicine will not be as frequent but will remain a standard part of care moving forward.

  6. Blue Shield of California did not say it was making telehealth permanent, but it is continuing to expand its virtual services, which could give clues on its future plans. It said in April it's adding two new features to its digital health platform to help members living with Type 2 diabetes.

  7. A Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina executive told The New York Times it may be too soon to tell how effective telehealth is for patients.

    "From the perspective of managing the cost and quality, there's a lot we don't know about telemedicine," said Rahul Rajkumar, MD, the chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Becker's Hospital Review reached out to Blue Cross Blue Shield and will update the article with any additional news.


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