With the World Health Organization officially labeling Coronavirus as a pandemic and confirmation of the virus multiplying throughout the states, Insurance Companies and Public Health Organizations are getting serious about what it’s going to take to battle this – not just medically, but also organizationally and administratively. Here’s some things we’ve heard about lately regarding telemedicine and teletherapy:
- There’s been a big push to verify telemedicine requirements as they relate to Medicaid payers in Florida. In the State of Florida, Medicaid plans are required to cover telemedicine for therapy services. We recently recommended on our video blog that you look into this option closely to be sure you have the technology and infrastructure to accommodate telemedicine.
- Commercial insurers have always been very hesitant to cover teletherapy on a large scale (following the protocol set by Medicare – which doesn’t cover teletherapy at all, except in very specific, rare situations). However, we’ve seen in recent days some insurers are starting to introduce plans to waive copays and deductibles related to medical testing for the coronavirus. Although this doesn’t affect therapy, it suggests that the insurers are willing to make changes to accommodate their member’s needs during this time. We’re hoping to see policies that may allow for more telehealth in certain situations to ensure members get needed therapy even when their therapist can’t treat face to face.
- Medicare has lifted some telehealth restrictions, but none that seem to affect therapy at this time. Medicare Advantage plans have some of their own policies on telehealth and allow more, so it’s important to recognize that additional telehealth benefits may be policy and recipient specific. Ultimately if Medicare lifts telehealth restrictions even further and allows therapy (to ensure home-bound patients continue to receive even limited maintenance therapy that is needed), it’s likely that other insurers will follow suit.
It’s important to continue to watch the developments in Commercial and Medicaid insurers to see how what changes may affect your patients and reimbursement. Offering the possibility of telemedicine to your clients will allow you to keep at least some semblance of a visit count and stem off a huge dip in reimbursement that could be difficult for your business.