Telehealth Cuts Costs and Saves Money

Richard A. Kimball, Jr.
Richard A. Kimball, Jr.

“The telehealth market is growing by double-digits with people in urban and suburban areas accessing care through technology as part of their employer or health plan offerings,” according to an article in mHealthNews by the executive director of the Alliance for Connected Care. “Starting in 2015, some Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will even have access to medical providers using telehealth because it is a supplement benefit in Medicare Advantage.”

This is great news. However, not everyone is able to benefit. What about those not enrolled in Medicare Advantage? The mHealthNews article pointed out a majority of senior citizens enrolled in Medicare fee for service will not have the option of accessing telehealth and that updates to the payment rules must be made to address this problem and allow seniors access to the service.

Despite telehealth proving itself as a viable alternative to in-person care, its supporters mourn the fact that states are moving too slowly to fully make use of the system and technology already in place. In fact, Jayne O’Donnell of USA Today noted that: “Nearly 30 states don’t allow reimbursement for video visits, which keeps doctors from practicing telemedicine. There’s no organized opposition to the practice — the American Medical Association endorsed it in June — but state legislatures and medical boards have been slow to change rules and laws to allow it.”

One of the challenges faced by the movement is the misconception that telehealth will increase costs to Medicare. This is not the case at all. The Alliance for Connected Care commissioned a study from Dale Yamamoto, the founder and President of Red Quill Consulting, Inc. and the study found that the opposite is true.

The study, “Assessment of the Feasibility and Cost of Replacing In-Person Care with Acute Care Telehealth Services” published December this year, found that nullifying the restrictions in the Medicare free-for-service program will in fact cut costs quite substantially. The average telehealth visit can cost a patient $40 to $50 while in-person consultation can cost upwards to $176 or so. That’s a massive difference. According to Yamamoto: “For the commercial market, the savings are approximately 70 percent of the average cost of care that the patient would have in the other settings.”

8 Responses

  • bloggerZ

    Telehealth really can be a big help in solving or addressing health issues with minimal expenses. But of courses there are health conditions that can be improved by medical treatment from experts

  • Monique

    There are so many advantages to telehealth! In fact, I found some really good info on this website that I think everyone should check out: http://electronichealthreporter.com/selected-faqs-about-telehealth/

  • Jenna B.

    BloggerZ, what do you mean exactly that there are health conditions that can be improved by medical treatment from experts? I mean, I do know what you’re saying, but do you think that there are certain conditions that telehealth cannot assist with?

  • Yassie

    Telehealth is going to save several of the medical providers a ton of money. I’m not entirely sure why so many are so slow to see clearly to this. Rick Kimball explains this in ways that are very easy to comprehend. In fact, I came across an article last night that gives even more insight.

  • Kandice

    Jenna, there will always be conditions that require more care inside the hospital or doctor’s office. TeleHealth can definitely assist with these, but sometimes you do need someone to look at you first.

  • Steven

    Jenna, there will always be conditions that will require care inside of a hospital or doctor’s office.

  • Kate H.

    I really do hope the we fast track the process to make population health methods a norm in our healthcare options. It’s such a pity that most people don’t have access to telehealth in their Medicare when it could make hospital visits a less costly.

    1. Richard A. Kimball, Jr.
      Richard A. Kimball, Jr.

      I totally agree with your comments!

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