AHIP: Americans Want Congress To Make Telehealth Capabilities Permanent

To address challenges during the Covid-19 pandemic, state and federal governments provided temporary waivers and flexibilities to make telehealth more available for consumers. Now, Americans want the government to make these provisions permanent, a new survey shows.

The survey was published Thursday by advocacy group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). It was fielded in October by NORC at the University of Chicago and included a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults, of which 498 were commercially insured.

AHIP’s survey found that 73% of commercially-insured telehealth users think that “Congress should make permanent the provisions that allowed for coverage of telehealth services before paying their full deductible.” 

Because of these findings, “health insurance providers encourage policymakers at the federal and state levels to make telehealth design flexibilities permanent to allow for the continued convenience, access, and value they provide for Americans,” the advocacy organization stated in a news release

The survey also discovered:

  • Four in 10 of the commercially insured respondents said they had used telehealth in the last year. Of this group, more than half used telehealth between 2 to 5 times in the past year.
  • Nearly 70% of commercially-insured telehealth users said they used telehealth instead of in-person services in the last year because of convenience.
  • Almost 4 in 5 commercially-insured telehealth users said telehealth helped them receive care when they needed it.
  • Another 85% said there is an “adequate” number of providers available through telehealth to meet their health needs.
  • Women with commercial insurance were 1.6 times more likely than men to use telehealth services. Women were also four times more likely than men to use telehealth due to a lack of childcare or eldercare.
  • Those with low to middle incomes use telehealth slightly more than those with higher income. About 40% of those earning $30,000-60,000 annually and 46% of those earning $60,000-100,000 annually use telehealth, compared to 38% of those earning more than $100,000.

“Patients and providers accept — and often prefer — digital technologies as an essential part of healthcare delivery,” Jeanette Thornton, executive vice president of policy and strategy at AHIP, said in the news release. “Telehealth can be just as effective as in-person care for many conditions and allows patients to receive more services ‘where they are.’ That’s why health insurance providers are committed to strengthening and improving both access and use for the millions of Americans who use telehealth for their health care needs.”

Photo: Alisa Zahoruiko, Getty Images