43% of Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth services in the first year of the pandemic

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A March 15 HHS Office of the Inspector General report concluded that telehealth was critical to providing services to Medicare beneficiaries during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

5 things to know:

1. More than 28 million of Medicare’s 66 million beneficiaries, or 43%, used a telehealth service between March 2020 and February 2021. In the previous year, only 341,000 beneficiaries used telehealth.

2. Telehealth use peaked in April 2020 and declined in late spring, summer and fall before briefly increasing in December 2020.

3. Despite a significant increase in the use of telehealth, most care was received in person. Telehealth accounted for 12% of all services in the first year of the pandemic, according to the report.

4. Telehealth was used for behavioral health at a significantly higher rate than other services. During this one-year period, 43% of behavioral health services were delivered via telehealth. Home visits had the second highest rate at 17%.

5. According to the report, beneficiaries most often used telehealth services for routine appointments with a primary care provider or specialist.
Read the full report here.

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