US telehealth usage increases slightly in August, reversing months of decline

A permanent or temporary lift for telehealth claims? FAIR Health, which is the non-profit that analyzes healthcare costs and health insurance information, has been tracking telehealth claims monthly since January 2020. This Editor has previously noted the peaks coming during the height of the pandemic (April 2020, 13%) and the rapid deflation after then to settling down during the summer to about 5%. In August, claim volume increased to 4.3% from 4.2% in July. It’s 2.4% mathematically, but still a decline from May’s 5%.

Of all telehealth claims, COVID-19 reappeared in the list of top five telehealth diagnoses nationally in August 2021 at 2%, the first time it had done so since January 2021. The vast number of claims–58.8%–were for mental health conditions, a slight change from July’s 60.7%, and decreased across every region. Also increased: acute respiratory diseases and infections, rising from 3.5% to 4.2%.

The largest increase in telehealth claims occurred in the Southern states, rising from 3.1% percent of medical claim lines in July to 3.5% in August. 

FAIR Health’s monthly tracker includes claims from the private (commercial) insurance population, including Medicare Advantage, and excluding Medicare fee-for-service and Medicaid. FAIR Health release, Becker’s Hospital Review

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