Published on November 5th, 2014 | by Thompson0
American, Mobile Healthcare Gets a Boost from Medicare
“Mobile technology can aid in providing access to information, helping to lower costs, facilitating remote care and increasing efficiencies by connecting patients to their providers virtually anywhere.” – Darrell M. West, Vice President and Director of Governance Studies and founding director of the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings
The healthcare industry in the United States is driven by health insurance companies. Doctors are only assured payment for services if those services are covered by insurance plans, so it’s important that mobile health services are covered by the most affordable health insurance plans, those being Medicare and Medicaid. When these services are covered, doctors are more willing to work with patients because their check gets in the mail much earlier. For services that are covered, payment can be rendered the same day the medical biller enters the applicable code into the patient’s invoice.
The mobile healthcare industry has grown slowly in the United States, but continues to make life easier for those living in rural areas where the nearest hospital or healthcare provider could be a 100-mile round trip or more. When flu season comes around, so does nasty weather, and travelling country roads covered with ice and snow when you’re already sick is hardly safe. You shouldn’t have to put your life in danger just to get a prescription, so when these folks come down with a sore throat, or cough that keeps them up at night, or a rash or joint pain that limits their movement, the convenience of speaking to and seeing a medical specialist regarding minor illnesses, pharmacology, or preventative medicine via a mobile device from the comfort of their own home makes life so much easier for those who grow and raise our food. According to PC World, doctors have been able to diagnose illnesses and write prescriptions in 15 US states, short of serious drugs like oncology medication and narcotics, since 2013.
These country folks got an even bigger lift when Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced changes to Medicare Part B that includes seven new telehealth reimbursement codes, all Category 1, that fit into three general areas.
Americans with Medicare or Medicaid will be reimbursed for their “annual wellness visit” as well as subsequent telehealth visits. These annual checkups and subsequent visits to discuss personal, preventative medical methods via a mobile device will now be covered by Medicare and allows Americans to avoid the costs of travelling to urgent care facilities or, worse yet, the emergency room, for minor illnesses and health issues.
Mental health wasn’t ignored, either. CMS also added codes that will cover psychoanalysis and family psychotherapy, whether the patient is present during a telepsychiatry conference or not. Codes were also added to cover additional time with therapists when the scheduled hour just isn’t enough. Medicare already covers mobile tobacco cessation services and drug and alcohol addiction therapy.
According to the Medicare website, Medicare Part B patients pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the doctor or other healthcare provider’s services, and the Part B deductible applies. For more information and CMS codes to get reimbursed for mobile health services, click here.