UnitedHealth, Anthem end some telehealth coverage Oct. 1

Oct. 1 marks the day when Anthem and UnitedHealth Group rolled back some virtual visit coverage, leaving members to pay more out of pocket, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Five things to know:

1. Anthem and UnitedHealth made changes to virtual health coverage on select plans and in general will still cover telehealth related to COVID-19 at no extra cost.

2. UnitedHealth updated its cost-sharing for individuals with in-network, non-COVID-19 virtual visits, including those with Medicare Advantage, individual plans and fully insured employer plans. Individuals enrolled in Anthem's fully insured employer and individual plans will also now have cost-sharing for non-COVID-19 virtual visits with in-network providers, although audio-only telephone visits will remain free through the end of the year.

3. Payers in general have different approaches to telehealth coverage, and some include tiered plans that will continue to cover select telehealth services while others do not. Aetna restored cost-sharing for some telehealth visits in June, and Cigna also now has out-of-pocket charges for non-COVID-19 related telehealth.

4. It has been a challenge for physicians and hospitals to manage the wide variety of rules by payers, which have different deadlines for reimbursement changes, according to the report.

5. Patients may decide to cancel telehealth appointments or unnecessarily put themselves at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 by going to in-person visits, according to Thomas Owens, MD, senior vice president of Durham, N.C.-based Duke University Health System.

Click here for the deadlines on telehealth coverage by payer.

More articles on telemedicine:
Telemedicine startup Hims closing in on deal to go public: 4 details
Top 10 cities in the US adopting telemedicine
17 patient care organizations ink principles for telehealth regulations

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