A recently-finalized rule implements a significant telemedicine expansion for Medicare Advantage plans. (See presser, fact sheet, and final Medicare Advantage telemedicine rule.) Telemedicine or telehealth benefits may now be included in core Medicare Advantage plan benefits, not just offered as supplemental benefits.

In the first edition of my column for Inside Digital Health, I wrote about this news and some implications for the healthcare provider community seeking to use this change to better serve the Medcare Advantage market.

Excerpt below; follow the link for the full piece, Medicare Advantage Telehealth Rule Could Be Big for Health Systems.

Medicare Advantage plans are being given broad discretion in implementing this expansion.

The effect that this change is likely to have on the prevalence of real-time video-linked telemedicine (so-called “synchronous telemedicine visits”), as well as on broader telehealth services, should not be underestimated.

Medicare Advantage plan members represent a growing percentage of Medicare beneficiaries. The most recent figures show that, of the 64 million Medicare beneficiaries today, 22 million are Medicare Advantage members. This represents the culmination of a steady increase both on a percentage basis and on an absolute basis over the past 20 years. Within the Medicare population, telemedicine has slowly but surely gained traction over the years, with rural telehealth visits increasing over 25% per year in the decade ending in 2013. As the ranks of Medicare Advantage members come to include more and more folks comfortable with transacting everything in their lives via their smartphones, tablets and laptops, the opportunity for the healthcare delivery system to provide more interaction via telemedicine continues to grow.

Read the full piece here.

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

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