COVID-19 has amplified the value of telehealth, which is now a lifeline for many immunocompromised and chronic disease patients across the country. As the pandemic slows and vaccine distribution accelerates, it’s important that we continue to use telehealth to increase access to care nationwide and pave the way for the next generation of affordable health care opportunities.
Telehealth options and accessibility varies from state to state, and insurance plan to insurance plan, but at its core, telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technologies, to access health care services remotely.
Here are just a few examples of how the powerful tool of telehealth can improve our health care system.
- Increased mobility: For many, getting to a doctor’s office can be a barrier. If you have a chronic illness, instances may arise where you have trouble traveling or even simply standing up. With care at your fingertips, patients can minimize these visits. For older generations – who may not have access to reliable transportation – this need can be even greater.
- Increased access to care: Some patients are lucky to live in areas where there is a plethora of quality care to choose from. But unfortunately, many patients, especially in rural areas, struggle to access quality health care. Telehealth allows all patients, regardless of their location, to have access to the best care for their needs. However, it’s essential that increased broadband accessibility also be prioritized so rural residents have access to telehealth services.
- Increased follow up: Telehealth continues the patient doctor relationship well beyond the doctor’s office or checkup. Patients can more frequently monitor their progression and treatment with their provider. This can be especially important after hospitalizations, changes in care routine or major rehabilitation milestones.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest barriers to telehealth is cost. Because of the recent rise in demand for telehealth options, telehealth coverage varies between insurance providers. Some only cover telehealth visits related to COVID-19, while others have expanded coverage to other types of visits as well.
In order to increase access to telehealth nationwide, we must support legislation that lowers costs, provides telehealth services and increases research and innovation in states everywhere.
There are several ways to join the telehealth conversation, but check out some key congressional telehealth bills below:
- S 368 Telehealth Modernization Act: This bill is one small step toward solidifying telehealth developments and COVID-19 protections for decades to come by enacting permanent telehealth flexibilities under the Medicare program related to the COVID–19 public health emergency.
- S 620 Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP Telehealth Expansion Bill: A major part in extending telehealth across the nation is studying the results of recent COVID-19 measures. This bill would support data reporting to Congress on the results of telehealth services under the Medicare, Medicaid, and Children Health Insurance Programs (CHIPs) during the COVID-19 emergency.
- HR 1406 Telehealth Data Reporting Bill: This bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to collect, analyze, and report qualitative and quantitative data on the use of telehealth during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Want to help increase access to care across the nation and support the use of telehealth in insurance and health care plans everywhere? Join the fight for chronic rights and send a letter to your congressperson on the importance of modernizing telehealth today.