Telemental Health Coverage is Expanding
November 8, 2017
Telehealth is changing the healthcare landscape in many areas, including the field of behavioral health. The shift to telemedicine is being adopted by many key insurers and healthcare innovators because of its long list of benefits to both the patient and the provider. Behavioral telehealth has seen many recent victories in the expansion of telehealth service coverage, as discussed below.
Medicare and Medicaid programs to expand telepsychiatry project
One of the latest telehealth initiatives is the recent telepsychiatry project expansion through Medicare and Medicaid. The reasoning behind this special telehealth initiative is to increase the level of care and reach a better value proposition, creating healthier people who spend smarter. The telepsychiatry project is also aimed at connecting more people with necessary healthcare services to provide or offer a better value proposition, shifting away from a traditional model that places restrictions on location. This win in telehealth coverage comes at a prime time, as more health insurance companies including UnitedHealth Group, Aetna and Anthem are making moves to widen their coverage of telehealth services, including paying for virtual consultations between physicians and patients via a smartphone, tablet or computer.
2017 brings new changes in Cigna’s telehealth offerings
Cigna is also embracing the shift to a telehealth takeover by adding AMWELL to its existing MDLIVE offerings, as an expanded standard telehealth benefit for most of Cigna’s U.S. employer-sponsored group health plans, individual health plans and even off public marketplace exchanges. Cigna plans to expand behavioral telehealth offerings by allowing the company’s contracted behavioral health professionals to use telehealth video consultations beginning January of 2017. This new expansion also includes telemental health/substance abuse benefits through video based services. These new behavioral services are available to customers and employers at no additional cost; the same cost share applies to video-based services as it would to face-to-face visits.
Telehealth coverage expansion explained
Why this renovation in access to telehealth services? Cigna believes that this expansion of telehealth services will improve access to trusted healthcare providers while also providing a more affordable and timely experience. Sound familiar? This expansion comes at a time in healthcare where most health insurance companies are shifting to improving telehealth offerings that speak to today’s modern society.