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Insurer ups telehealth rates, expedites physician pay to help small practices — 5 details


Regence BlueShield of Idaho is adjusting its reimbursement policies to help physicians avoid closing their practices during the pandemic, according to Idaho News 6.

What you should know:

1. As providers deal with sagging volumes due to COVID-19, Regence BlueShield is reimbursing telehealth appointments at the same rate as office visits. Physicians are typically paid less for telehealth visits.

2. Regence's telehealth rate change applies during the pandemic, but insurers might consider rate adjustments in the long term, according to John Heintz, vice president of network development for Regence BlueShield of Idaho.

"I think the genie is out of the bottle on telehealth. I think it's going to be hard to put it back in," he told Idaho News 6.

3. Regence is also expediting physician pay to help providers — especially small practices in Idaho's rural areas — maintain cash flow.

"When we get outside of Boise into these more rural markets, we have to support these rural markets to ensure that they're going to operate during this time, and more importantly, they're going to be operating post-COVID," Mr. Heintz said.

4. Regence's payments for claims are now out the door in about 15 days, compared to the usual 30 days. The average time to claims payment in Idaho is about a week.

5. Mr. Heintz predicted that the pandemic's economic repercussions will last two to three years. He expects costs to rise for patients who delay treatment for chronic conditions.


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