DALLAS, Nov. 21, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Remarks by Seema Verma on October 15th noted that “Under a proposed rule released just a few weeks ago, in 2020, Medicare Advantage enrollees will have more options for receiving telehealth services beyond what is otherwise available in the traditional program.” As CMS promotes and supports more use of telehealth services, Medicare Advantage members are not fully aware of them.

While coverage of telehealth services is expanding, a survey of 781 Medicare Advantage members shows that few Medicare Advantage members are aware if their plan offers or recommends online and phone-based telehealth services: 46 percent of respondents were unsure if their plan offers telehealth, 37 percent said it is not offered, and 17 percent noted it is offered. Further, when asked to choose top covered services members desire, more than half of Medicare Advantage respondents chose 1) home modification for medical needs, 2) assistance at the home, 3) transportation reimbursement, and 4) food deliveries. Forty-three percent (43%) chose telehealth.

Excerpts from Verma’s talk at the Alliance for Connected Care Telehealth Policy Forum for Health Systems highlighted the following changes:

  • “For the very first time, starting in January, Medicare will pay for virtual check-ins, meaning patients can connect with their doctors by phone or video chat.”
  • “For the very first time, we will also be paying for virtual consultations between physicians, and evaluation of remote pre-recorded images and video.”
  • The CMS “recently released home health rule will enhance the ability of home health agencies to use remote patient monitoring for their Medicare patients. This will allow patients to share more live-time data with their providers and caregivers.”
  • “Medicare patients receiving home dialysis will be able to receive their monthly clinical assessments via telehealth, from their homes. And patients experiencing symptoms of an acute stroke will be able to receive telehealth services from mobile stroke units.”

Earlier in 2018, potential Medicare telehealth cost savings were reported. “Cowen and Co. analyst Charles Rhyee estimates the average cost of a telehealth call is between $40-$50 compared to around $150 for an urgent care visit, and nearly $1,500 for a trip to the emergency room. Rhyee also estimates that roughly $135 billion of Medicare’s annual $675 billion in spending could be done by telehealth.”
Below are results from questions from the survey:

Q.  Does your Medicare plan offer/recommend online telehealth services?

  • Not sure if telehealth is offered           46%
  • Telehealth is not offered                     37%
  • Yes, my plan offers telehealth            17%

Q.  What are new benefits that you would like to have offered by your Medicare plan?                                  

  • Modification to home for medical needs          62%
  • Assistance at the home                                   57%
  • Transportation reimbursement                        54%
  • Food deliveries                                                51%
  • Telemedicine/Telehealth                                 43%
  • Respite care for caregiver                               32%

The HealthMine survey also revealed that 77 percent of respondents use a smart device (a smartphone or tablet). All the respondents were computer literate as the survey was fielded online.

About the Survey 
The HealthMine Medicare Survey queried 781 insured age 65+ consumers with a chronic condition who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Survey Sampling International (SSI) in June/July 2018 fielded the survey. Data were collected via an opt-in panel. The margin of error was three percent (3%). Survey Sampling International (SSI) has been the Worldwide Leader in Survey Sampling and Data Collection Solutions, across every mode, for more than forty years.

About HealthMine
HealthMine is the only Health Action as a Service company originally built inside a Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) health plan. HealthMine’s services help health plans target and empower individuals to take actions that improve clinical outcomes while decreasing total cost of care and increasing plan revenue. HealthMine is on the web at www.healthmine.com.

SOURCE HealthMine

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