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Telehealth Claim Lines Increase 4,132 Percent Nationally from June 2019 to June 2020

From May 2020 to June 2020, However, Telehealth Claim Lines Fall 21 Percent Nationally

Findings from FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker Suggest Continuing Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

NEW YORK, NY—September 1, 2020—Telehealth claim lines increased 4,132 percent nationally from June 2019 to June 2020, rising from 0.16 percent of medical claim lines in June 2019 to 6.85 percent in June 2020, according to new data from FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker. Although considerable, that increase was less than the year-to-year increase the previous month, when telehealth claim lines increased 5,680 percent nationally, from 0.15 percent of medical claim lines in May 2019 to 8.69 percent in May 2020.The data represent the privately insured population, excluding Medicare and Medicaid.

While increasing greatly from 2019 to 2020, telehealth claim lines fell 21 percent nationally on a month-to-month basis, from 8.69 percent of medical claim lines in May 2020 to 6.85 percent in June 2020.

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 June 2019 to June 2020, but these increases were smaller than the increases from May 2019 to May 2020. In addition, in each region, there was a drop in volume of claim lines from May 2020 to June 2020. The biggest drop was in the Northeast, where the decrease from May to June was 33 percent, from 12.5 percent of medical claim lines to 8.4 percent.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is suggested by the higher telehealth utilization from March to June 2020 in comparison with the same months in 2019. In March and April 2020, many states prohibited in-person rendering of elective procedures and non-emergency medical care, making telehealth an attractive alternative. Many of these prohibitions expired in May as states began to open up, perhaps accounting for the drop in the telehealth share of total medical claim lines in May and June relative to April. However, as the pandemic continued, telehealth usage remained high by comparison with 2019.

Other notable findings of the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker concern the top five telehealth diagnoses:

  • Mental health conditions, already the number one telehealth diagnosis nationally and in every region in May 2020, accounted for an even larger share of telehealth claim lines in June 2020. Nationally, this diagnosis increased from 40 percent to 44 percent of telehealth claim lines from May to June 2020. Increases in the Northeast and Midwest were particularly notable, with claims in the Northeast increasing from 41 percent in May to 48 percent in June, and in the Midwest from 49 percent in May to 54 percent in June.
  • Exposure to communicable diseases was the number five diagnosis in the South and in the West in June. This diagnosis did not appear among the top five diagnoses nationally or regionally in May.

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, diagnoses and urban versus rural usage, each infographic includes findings on the top five telehealth procedure codes.

FAIR Health is a national, independent nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information. FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd stated, “It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a substantial impact on telehealth. FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker shows the specifics of how this venue of care is being transformed.”

For the Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker, click here.

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