Expanded telehealth options that might surprise you

With continued concern around COVID-19, it’s not surprising that some people may be making the choice to see their doctor from the safety and comfort of their home through telehealth. According to a recent survey, since April nearly half of physicians are seeing patients through telehealth options, compared to just 18% in 2018. Additionally, at the peak care system closure in April, UnitedHealthcare facilitated more than 4 million digital care visits. That’s nearly 30 times the number of visits performed in January.   

Telehealth doesn’t require complicated equipment and it can be easy to get started. Your provider’s office will let you know which digital platform you can use for the visit whether it’s a phone, laptop or tablet; reach out to them with any set-up questions you might have beforehand. 

In addition to convenience, more telehealth services may be covered than you might think — such as depression screenings and tobacco-use counseling. And in March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded even more Medicare coverage to include 85 additional services provided via telehealth, including speech and hearing therapy, plus self-care management training. 

Some other services provided through telehealth may include:

  • Evaluation services such as a consultation or annual depression screening
  • Mental and behavioral health services 
  • Nutritional and diabetic care services, such as medical nutrition therapy or diabetes outpatient self-management training
  • Substance use/abuse-related services, such as smoking cessation counseling or an alcohol abuse assessment
  • Physical and occupational therapies, including speech/hearing therapy or assistive technology assessments
  • Inhaler use evaluations for those with asthma
  • Caregiver health risk assessments

Telehealth may not be the final stop with a health care issue — sometimes, it’s the beginning. A telehealth visit may lead to a referral for an in-person follow-up, when appropriate. If you need a prescription based on what your telehealth provider recommends, they may be able to send it electronically to your pharmacist. 

If you’re not sure if a telehealth visit will be covered – or if you want to better understand any applicable costs – contact your insurance provider. For more information and resources, visit uhc.com.