NEW YORK, Aug. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- After three months of decline, telehealth utilization stabilized in May 2021, according to FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. Telehealth utilization, measured as a percentage of all medical claim lines,1 rose 2 percent nationally from April to May 2021, increasing from 4.9 percent of medical claim lines in April to 5 percent in May. By comparison, telehealth claim lines fell nationally as a percentage of medical claim lines each month from February to April. The data represent the privately insured population, including Medicare Advantage and excluding Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicaid.
In two of the four US census regions in May 2021, telehealth claim lines rose as a percentage of medical claim lines just as they did nationally—5.6 percent in the South and 4.8 percent in the West. In the other two regions, there was a decrease—5.4 percent in the Midwest and 1.7 percent in the Northeast.
In May 2021, substance use disorders joined the top five telehealth diagnoses nationally for the first time, in fifth place. Substance use disorders also remained in the top five in the Midwest and Northeast, as had been the case in April. The pattern was consistent with reports of increased misuse of opioids and stimulants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The percentage of telehealth claim lines accounted for by mental health conditions rose nationally and in every region in May 2021. Mental health conditions remained in the number one spot among telehealth diagnoses nationally and in every region.
Acute respiratory diseases and infections climbed in the national rankings of telehealth diagnoses from number four to number three, joining the top five diagnoses in the Northeast and West. The diagnosis had already been in the top five in the Midwest and South in April, and continued there in May. As in April, this suggested a return to non-COVID respiratory conditions, such as colds and bronchitis, as cases of COVID-19 fell.
In May 2021, the top five telehealth procedure codes by utilization remained the same as in April nationally and in every region but the Midwest. There, CPT®2 99213, an established patient outpatient visit with a total time of 20-29 minutes, fell from second to fourth place.
About the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker
Launched in May 2020 as a free service, the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker uses FAIR Health data to track how telehealth is evolving from month to month. An interactive map of the four US census regions allows the user to view an infographic on telehealth in a specific month in the nation as a whole or in individual regions. Each infographic shows month-to-month changes in volume of telehealth claim lines, top five telehealth procedure codes and top five telehealth diagnoses (or diagnostic categories), along with that month's top five granular diagnoses within the most common diagnostic category.
FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd stated: "FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker continues to reveal changes in telehealth as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. This is one of many ways we pursue our healthcare transparency mission."
For the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, click here.
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About FAIR Health
FAIR Health is a national, independent nonprofit organization that qualifies as a public charity under section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code. It is dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information through data products, consumer resources and health systems research support. FAIR Health possesses the nation's largest collection of private healthcare claims data, which includes over 34 billion claim records and is growing at a rate of over 2 billion claim records a year. FAIR Health licenses its privately billed data and data products—including benchmark modules, data visualizations, custom analytics and market indices—to commercial insurers and self-insurers, employers, providers, hospitals and healthcare systems, government agencies, researchers and others. Certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as a national Qualified Entity, FAIR Health also receives data representing the experience of all individuals enrolled in traditional Medicare Parts A, B and D; FAIR Health includes among the private claims data in its database, data on Medicare Advantage enrollees. FAIR Health can produce insightful analytic reports and data products based on combined Medicare and commercial claims data for government, providers, payors and other authorized users. FAIR Health's systems for processing and storing protected health information have earned HITRUST CSF certification and achieved AICPA SOC 2 compliance by meeting the rigorous data security requirements of these standards. As a testament to the reliability and objectivity of FAIR Health data, the data have been incorporated in statutes and regulations around the country and designated as the official, neutral data source for a variety of state health programs, including workers' compensation and personal injury protection (PIP) programs. FAIR Health data serve as an official reference point in support of certain state balance billing laws that protect consumers against bills for surprise out-of-network and emergency services. FAIR Health also uses its database to power a free consumer website available in English and Spanish, which enables consumers to estimate and plan for their healthcare expenditures and offers a rich educational platform on health insurance. An English/Spanish mobile app offers the same educational platform in a concise format and links to the cost estimation tools. The website has been honored by the White House Summit on Smart Disclosure, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), URAC, the eHealthcare Leadership Awards, appPicker, Employee Benefit News and Kiplinger's Personal Finance. FAIR Health also is named a top resource for patients in Dr. Marty Makary's book The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care—and How to Fix It and Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal's book An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back. For more information on FAIR Health, visit fairhealth.org.
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1 A claim line is an individual service or procedure listed on an insurance claim.
2 CPT © 2020 American Medical Association (AMA). All rights reserved.
SOURCE FAIR Health