NEW YORK, Oct. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The staying power of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic was evident in the August 2020 results of FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. Telehealth claim lines1 increased 3,552 percent nationally from August 2019 to August 2020, rising from 0.17 percent of medical claim lines in August 2019 to 6.07 percent in August 2020. From month to month, the telehealth share of medical claim lines stayed relatively the same nationally, rising 1.2 percent from 6.00 percent in July 2020 to 6.07 percent in August 2020. The data represent the privately insured population, excluding Medicare and Medicaid.
Trends in the four US census regions (Midwest, Northeast, South and West) were similar to those in the nation as a whole. In each region, there were large percent increases in volume of claim lines from August 2019 to August 2020, but small variations in volume of claim lines from July 2020 to August 2020. The variations were, to some degree, commensurate with changes in the pandemic—for example, rising the most (9.7 percent) in the South, which was particularly hard-hit in the summer; falling the most (7.7 percent) in the Northeast, which had experienced its peak of cases in the spring.
Higher telehealth utilization from March to August 2020 in comparison with the same months in 2019 is likely a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March and April 2020, many states prohibited in-person rendering of elective procedures, making telehealth an attractive alternative. Many of these prohibitions expired in May as states began to open up. But despite some decline from month to month, telehealth usage remained high by comparison with 2019.
Other notable findings of the August Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker concern the top five telehealth diagnoses. Mental health conditions, the number one telehealth diagnosis nationally and in every region since March 2020, continued to rise as a share of all telehealth diagnoses, growing nationally from 45.39 percent to 48.93 percent from July to August 2020. An increase of similar size occurred across regions—four percent in every region but the Midwest, which saw three percent growth.
From July to August 2020, acute respiratory diseases rose from the fifth most common diagnosis in telehealth nationally (at 2.37 percent) to the fourth most common (at 2.32 percent). Even so, acute respiratory diseases accounted for a much smaller share of telehealth in August 2020 than they did in August 2019 (17.63 percent), due to the diversity of other diagnoses that became more common in telehealth as a result of the pandemic.
About the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker
Launched in May 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. In addition to data on the volume of claim lines and on diagnoses, each infographic includes findings on urban versus rural usage and the top five telehealth procedure codes.
FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd stated: "After several months of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has persisted in showing high utilization across the country. FAIR Health's Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker will continue to provide a window into how this venue of care is evolving."
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 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 32 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 and an English/Spanish mobile app, which enable consumers to estimate and plan for their healthcare expenditures and offer a rich educational platform on health insurance. 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 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.
SOURCE FAIR Health