It’s expected that patients under the Medicare scheme should find it easy to access the national health insurance program due to their old age (65 years and above) and health conditions, especially for those under social security disabilities.
In order to make it seamless, Medicare telehealth services were introduced. Sadly, not many patients are tapping into the opportunity due to a lack of awareness. In this piece, we’ll explain what telehealth service means. What are its five key benefits? How can patients utilize it to the fullest?
What Is Medicare Telehealth Service?
Medicare telehealth services are healthcare services that are provided remotely to Medicare beneficiaries via telecommunication technology. These services enable patients to receive medical care and consultations from their healthcare providers without having to physically see a medical practitioner or visit a medical facility.
Medicare telehealth services include a wide range of services, such as virtual visits with doctors, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare providers, remote monitoring of vital signs and symptoms, and telehealth consultations with specialists.
It should be noted that Medicare telehealth services became more prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, Medicare expanded its coverage of telehealth services to ensure that beneficiaries continue to receive medical care while minimizing the risk of exposure to the virus.
Some examples of telehealth services that Medicare covers include virtual visits for mental health counseling, remote monitoring of chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, and telestroke services for patients who have experienced a stroke, among others.
5 Key Benefits of Medicare Telehealth Services
Patients stand the chance to gain a lot from using Medicare telehealth services. Some of the benefits include:
- Increased Access to Healthcare
Telehealth Medicare services have made it possible to reach patients even in the remotest parts of the country. With telehealth programs, patients with mobility issues have no cause to worry about access to healthcare services. It helps to reduce healthcare disparities and ensure that everyone has access to the care they need.
Telehealth services allow Medicare patients to receive medical care from the comfort of their homes, which can save time and reduce the need to travel to a healthcare facility. This is especially beneficial for patients with chronic conditions who require regular check-ups and monitoring.
3. Cost savings
This is another key benefit of telehealth services. It is economical and less expensive because there is no need for in-person visits, as they eliminate the need for travel and can be less time-consuming.
Additionally, telehealth services can help reduce the burden on healthcare facilities, which can lead to cost savings for patients and healthcare providers.
4. Improved patient outcomes
Telehealth services often lead to better patient outcomes by allowing for more frequent monitoring and communication between patients and healthcare providers. This helps to identify potential health problems early on and prevent complications from arising.
5. High rate of efficiency
Telehealth services improve the efficiency of healthcare providers by allowing them to see more patients in less time. Additionally, telehealth services can reduce the administrative burden on providers, as they eliminate the need for paperwork and other administrative tasks associated with in-person visits.
Who Does Telehealth Medicare Services Cover?
Telehealth Medicare services cover beneficiaries who are enrolled in Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, or who have certain disabilities or medical conditions.
More importantly, Medicare Part B covers telehealth services for all beneficiaries, regardless of where they live or their healthcare facility’s location, as long as they meet certain requirements. The telehealth services must be provided by a healthcare professional who participates in Medicare, and the services must be medically necessary.
Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, also covers telehealth services for beneficiaries. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare to provide beneficiaries with their benefits. These plans may offer additional telehealth services beyond what is covered under Medicare Part B.
It should be noted that the coverage for telehealth services may vary depending on the patient’s Medicare plan and the specific service provided.
What Telehealth Medicare Services Do Not Cover
While telehealth Medicare services cover a range of healthcare services provided remotely through telecommunication technology, certain services are not covered such as telehealth services provided outside of the United States.
Also, audio-only telehealth services such as phone calls or voicemail messages are not permitted under the Medicare program. Although there are few exceptions such as behavioral health services provided to beneficiaries in rural areas.
It should be stated that telehealth Medicare services do not allow certain types of equipment such as remote monitoring devices or home health testing kits unless they are used as part of a covered telehealth service.
Additionally, services provided by non-participating providers are not permitted because Medicare only covers telehealth services provided by healthcare professionals who participate in Medicare.
How can you enroll for Telehealth Medicare Services?
Medicare patients can enroll for telehealth services in several ways such as by checking Medicare coverage. By doing so, you will discover what telehealth services are covered as well as the requirements.
However, only opt-in for Medicare-approved telehealth providers. Medicare patients should familiarize themselves with the list of approved telehealth providers on their website.
You can also contact the telehealth provider directly to enroll for services. The provider may ask for personal and insurance information, as well as set up a username and password.
One of the criteria often includes paying certain costs, such as copayments or deductibles, for telehealth services. The cost will depend on the type of service and the Medicare plan the patient has.
Why Does it Matter?
Since telehealth Medicare services bring you wholesome medical treatment with ease, taking full advantage of the opportunity should not be optional.