Telehealth claim lines increased 4,132% nationally from June 2019 to June 2020, rising from 0.16% of medical claim lines in June 2019 to 6.85% in June 2020, according to FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker.
Although considerable, FAIR Health said, that increase was less than the year-to-year increase the previous month, when telehealth claim lines increased 5,680% nationally, from 0.15% in May 2019 to 8.69% in May 2020.
The data represent the privately insured population, FAIR Health said, excluding Medicare and Medicaid.
While increasing greatly from 2019 to 2020, FAIR Health said, telehealth claim lines fell 21% nationally on a month-to-month basis, from 8.69% of medical claim lines in May 2020 to 6.85% in June 2020.
Trends in the four United States 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%, from 12.5% of medical claim lines to 8.4%.
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, FAIR Health said.
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. But as the pandemic continued, telehealth usage remained high by comparison with 2019.
“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,” said FAIR Health president Robin Gelburd.