Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) is extending its expanded reimbursement telehealth policy through September 30, 2022. The policy was originally expanded effective March 2020 and covers doctor visits by video or phone the same as face-to-face visits.
“As we have seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, patients and physicians have relied on telehealth,” said Roberta Capp, MD, chief medical officer at Blue Cross NC. “Blue Cross NC has covered telehealth at parity with in-person visits since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Extending this policy helps our members access the care they need, when they need it.”
The policy applies to all Blue Cross NC commercial plans and Medicare Advantage plans offered and administered by Blue Cross NC, including the State Health Plan. Members of the Federal Employee Program have telehealth covered at parity with in-person visits until further notice. The extended policy does not apply to Blue Cross NC members getting care from out-of-state providers. Providers may continue to use the platform of their choosing for telehealth services.
In 2020, 92% of Blue Cross NC members’ telehealth visits were primary care or behavioral health services, compared to 8% for specialist visits, despite coverage and payment parity. The company saw similar trends for 2021 and will continue to monitor trends going forward.
Blue Cross NC has been covering telehealth for more than 20 years and will continue to do so in the future. The company will continue to use data and insights on telehealth to study its usage and update its telehealth policy in the future to best serve its members. The extended review period will ensure that telehealth remains a tool that improves health and increases access to affordable health care.
More information on Blue Cross NC’s COVID-19-related coverage and policies is available at BlueCrossNC.com/Coronavirus.