UnitedHealthcare, Humana & more: 7 payers expanding telehealth strategies 

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Fueled by the acceleration of digital health and telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, several health insurers have launched new initiatives to expand virtual care for members.

Here are seven payers who expanded telehealth initiatives or recently had new strategies go into effect this year.

1. UnitedHealthcare debuted a virtual primary care service in partnership with Amwell Jan. 14. The service aims to make it easier for members to maintain a relationship with a primary care physician and is available to members who are in certain employer-based or self-funded plans in the following states and areas: Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

2. Capital BlueCross, a Pennsylvania-based insurer that covers close to 1 million members, said Jan. 19 that it is temporarily waiving virtual care fees through March 31.

3. Texas managed care organization Community Health Choice partnered with Doctor on Demand Jan. 14 to launch a new virtual care HMO plan specifically designed to give individuals who do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare a lower cost option for coverage.

4. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington last September unveiled its new healthcare plan for virtual care. The Seattle-based insurer's Virtual Plus plan became available starting Jan. 1 as direct to consumers and employer groups.

5. Harvard Pilgrim Health Care in Wellesley, Mass., teamed up with Doctor on Demand to launch its new virtual primary care plan in November. The plan, named SimplyVirtual, became available to large employers in Connecticut starting Jan. 1.

6. Louisville, Ky.-based Humana tapped virtual diabetes management provider Vida Health to offer its Medicaid members digital therapeutics for diabetes, coaching and in-app peer group support. The new offering became available to Humana Healthy Horizons members starting Jan. 1. Humana also said it will maintain zero telehealth copays for several visit types in the Medicare Advantage Part D plans through 2021.

7. 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. 

Morgan Haefner contributed to this article.

 

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