How 10 payers are approaching telehealth

Payers are adapting to the growing popularity of telehealth. Insurers are updating their coverage policies and adding new options for members to seek primary and behavioral care at home. 

Here's how 10 payers are innovating in telehealth. 

Policy updates 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will continue reimbursing telehealth at the same rate as in-person services for primary and chronic care for now. In a statement shared with Becker's, the company said, "Clinicians and health insurers should work towards more affordable rates for telehealth services over time." 

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

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska reduced telehealth reimbursements for providers, a decision Nebraska Hospital Association President Jeremy Nordquist called "devastating" and "shortsighted." 

UnitedHealth Group CEO Sir Andrew Witty said the company has built telehealth strategies to reduce wasteful spending and meet the need for more behavioral healthcare. 

New Platforms

Anthem BCBS Colorado, Indiana, Missouri and Nevada are rolling out virtual primary care to more members. The payer has also developed a platform for virtual maternal care

L.A. Care Health Plan and Centene's Health Net, in partnership with Los Angeles County, will soon offer free mental telehealth services to 1.3 million public school students.

Kaiser Permanente and mental healthcare provider Ginger are partnering to offer emotional telehealth support services to members. Members will be able to access no-cost and appointment-free text messaging-based support coaches, personalized tools and resources, and a platform to track progress and goals. 

Blue Shield of California will launch a virtual-first health plan in partnership with care navigation platform Accolade. The "Virtual Blue" health benefits plan will offer $0 out-of-pocket costs for virtual primary care, specialty care for 20 specialties, urgent care and mental care.

Cigna's health services arm, Evernorth, is adding management for chronic conditions to telehealth service MDLive. Cigna acquired the service in 2021. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts introduced a virtual primary care team feature. Members of most plans will be able to choose a virtual primary care provider through Carbon Health or Firefly Health, two virtual care services. 

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