Medicare Use of Telehealth During COVID-19

July 17, 2020
Grace Halsey
Grace Halsey

Medicare beneficiary use of telehealth services reached nearly 9 million as COVID-19 shut down on-site visits. Will the options be permanent?

Use of telehealth by US Medicare beneficiaries during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic reached more than 9 million as in-person clinical contact quickly become impossible, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS also reports that weekly telehealth visits jumped from 13 000 pre-pandemic to nearly 1.7 million in April.

In a July 15 commentary in Health Affairs, CMS administrator Seema Verma elaborated on the swift adoption of "connected health" from March 17-June 30. As to the future of state and federal rules relaxed to encourage uptake, Verma said CMS is “reviewing the temporary changes we made and assessing which of these flexibilities should be made permanent through regulatory action.”

The short slide show below highlights the demographcis of telehealth use among Medicare beneficiaries and the issues CMS is considering before deciding on permanent changes.