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Telehealth Coverage: New Trend In Insurance

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

The insurance world could see a new trend in coverage with telehealth becoming the new norm.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee started the trend by becoming the first insurance company in the state to permanently cover telehealth services last week. Monica Goolsby of Cookeville’s Swallows Insurance said since other providers across the state will likely follow suit.

“I think it is going to become a trend,” Goolsby said. “People are anxious right now, so it kinda takes out that pressure of making an appointment. I’ve gotta wear a mask. I’ve gotta get my temperature checked. All those things.”

The concept of telehealth coverage is not new, but coronavirus broadened telehealth options, Goolsby said. In today’s time, telehealth is the safest quickest option for patients and staff, so the need for coverage grew. Goolsby said the process of filing a claim for telehealth is the same as visiting in person.

“For example, I have a telehealth appointment with my doctor,” Goolsby said. “They’re going to have my insurance information like I was going to go to an actual physical visit to this office. They are going to file that claim and it’s going to go to the insurance carrier as a telehealth claim.”

Goolsby said in the past, Blue Cross Blue Shield’s self-funded plan included a telehealth product but not for small groups. Then recently, they added a product on top of their benefits for employees called PhysicianNow. This benefit allowed subscribers to call in and speak with a licensed medical professional.

Blue Cross Blue Shield covers about 70 percent of Tennessee’s private insurance market. On May 14th, Abbey Dennis, a spokesman for the Department of Commerce and Insurance, confirmed that no other company plans to cover telehealth services at this level indefinitely, but said this may change.

In the state of Tennessee, TennCare reimburses only for live video crisis-related services.


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