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Physician Pay for Telehealth ‘Similar’ to In-Person

During the pandemic, private insurers paid similarly for telehealth and in-person care
By Bruce Japsen

Private health insurers physicians paid “similarly” for in-person treatment as they did for telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, a sign health plans view at least some basic physician services as valuable no matter how they are delivered to patients.

Though a new study zeroed in on the first two years of the pandemic, its results have repercussions over the long-term as healthcare providers and their patients deem telehealth critical to increasing access to care and potentially reducing healthcare costs.

After all, telehealth reduces the need to take time to travel to a doctor’s office or other location and, in some cases, limits a patient’s time away from work, school or other activities.

“In 2021, as was the case in 2020, private insurers continued to pay providers similarly for telehealth and in-person professional claims, on average,” a study by KFF, formerly the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Peterson Center on Healthcare, shows. “This is true for both evaluation and management and mental health therapy services. Among providers who offered both telehealth and in-person care, the vast majority of providers received similar payments regardless of whether the service was provided in-person or over telehealth.”

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