The “news”: Telehealth’s ability to reduce healthcare system costs is back on the hot seat.
Digging into the data: KFF's analysis revealed there were only marginal differences in how much doctors were paid for telehealth versus in-person care.
One side of the debate: It’s not surprising that payers hiked up their reimbursement rates. Some were mandated to (e.g. Medicare and certain states). But the findings raise the question if payment parity may increase overall healthcare spending.
If telehealth and in-person visits are reimbursed at the same rates, virtual care could be overused.
The counterpoint: While a telehealth visit might require an in-person follow up with a primary care physician or specialist, that’s a lot better—and cheaper—than going to an urgent care center or the emergency room. Plus, some research examining the cost of telehealth doesn’t include savings realized by employers and their workers from not having to travel or take off work.
Our take: The debate over telehealth’s impact on healthcare spending is still very much TBD. We believe the greatest value of telehealth is not that it’s a huge cost saver.
Here’s where telehealth proves its worth:
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Digital Health Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the healthcare industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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