Tennessee BlueCross the First to Make Telehealth Services Permanent
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is covering the full treatment cost for COVID-19, including testing, treatment, and hospitalizations and free Telehealth. The now-permanent benefit includes member-to-provider and provider-to-provider consultations.
As part of our mission, our first priority is the health of our members and the communities we serve…And since the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything our members have faced in recent memory, we want to make sure we remove any barriers to receiving the care they need. JD Hickey, M.D., president, and CEO
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee covers 70 percent of Tennessee’s private insurance market. This decision makes it the first major insurer to embrace Telehealth for the long-term after the dramatic expansion of these services during the COVID-19 pandemic, a move the company said aligns with other steps it has taken to improve access to primary care. From March 16 to April 14, it managed 71,000 Telehealth claims, which is 18 times more than the claims submitted over the same period in 2019.
The insurer will now cover Telehealth for primary care providers, specialists, behavioral health providers, and occupational, physical and speech therapy as part of its standard policies. During the pandemic, the company made its PhysicianNow virtual services available at no cost through June 30; after that point, the services will be available as a cost-sharing service.
Making Telehealth benefits available permanently is another way to collaborate with in-network providers to make quality care more convenient.
“Providers and patients have indicated that they believe Telehealth provided for therapy and many other services are not only efficient but effective — and not just during a public health crisis,” said Carmen Elliott, APTA’s vice president of payment and practice management. “This innovative step by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is encouraging, and hopefully, other payers will see the same promise in Telehealth as a permanent offering.”
BlueCross is also giving back with a $3.25 million donation to food banks across the state.
For more on the BlueCross response to COVID-19, visit BCBSTupdates.com
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is a taxpaying, not-for-profit health plan serving more than 3.5 million members in Tennessee and around the country. The Chattanooga-based company was founded in 1945 and is celebrating its 75th anniversary of bringing peace of mind to its members and local communities. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s news center at BCBSTnews.com.