How the pandemic shaped BCBS North Carolina's new telehealth policy 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is expanding its telehealth policy to include more services based on two years of telehealth claims data from the COVID-19 pandemic released Sept. 20.

In 2020, the company saw telehealth claims rise 7,500 percent. Members had more than 2.7 million telehealth visits for behavioral health or primary care, accounting for 92 percent of all telehealth visits. 

"The substantial increase of telehealth usage during the pandemic has provided two years of member data that is more informative than the entire 20 years prior when our company first began covering telehealth," Stephen Friedhoff, MD, senior vice president of healthcare services, said. "Blue Cross NC is responding to ensure our policies reflect these findings by expanding telehealth options so members can access easy, affordable care no matter where they live."

The new telehealth policy is effective Jan. 1 and will cover behavioral, primary and outpatient care in North Carolina — those services made up 97 percent of the company's telehealth claims in the last two years. The policy applies to all fully insured and administrative services only plans.

Surgery, anesthesia, laboratory testing and radiology will not be covered through telehealth.

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