AMERICAN WORKERS FACE YEAR-END ‘TELEHEALTH CLIFF’ – WORKERS WITH HIGH DEDUCTIBLE HEALTH PLANS WILL PAY MORE TO ACCESS TELEHEALTH SERVICES IF CONGRESS DOES NOT ACT SWIFTLY
WASHINGTON, DC, DECEMBER 1, 2022 – With just 30 days left before the expiration of temporary provisions put in place under the COVID-19 public health emergency to allow employers the flexibility to offer telehealth services outside the deductible to employees with High Deductible Health Plans with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and ATA Action made the following statement:
“We certainly appreciate the unprecedented support telehealth has received from the President and Congress, allowing Americans to access needed services during the public health emergency. However, that option will come to a screeching halt for many American workers who have a high deductible health plan (HDHP) health savings account (HSA), who will not be able to access telehealth coverage without first having to meet annual deductibles if Congress does not act urgently before that provision expires on December 31,” said Kyle Zebley, senior vice president, public policy, American Telemedicine Association, and executive director, ATA Action. “It would be untenable to think, now that people have come to depend on telehealth for needed care, including telemental health services, that we could allow that benefit to be pulled out from under them, particularly in these challenging economic times.”
A recent poll of 800 midterm voters conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on November 8 found that 81% of people with employer insurance and private insurance champion telehealth access. In addition, telehealth services including telemental health (83%) ranked just a few percentage points below primary care visits (86%) and chronic disease treatment services (87%) for which out-of-pocket healthcare costs Congress should eliminate, a marginal difference in polling calculations.
“Allowing this provision to expire will be confusing for patients who may not realize that, suddenly in the new year, telehealth services will cost them,” added Zebley. “Access to effective, quality healthcare is essential, especially for those in rural communities, who can’t take time off from work to visit their doctor, and those needing telemental health services. We are precariously close to the edge of the telehealth cliff. We appeal to Congress to continue to view this as a critical bipartisan, bicameral issue that deserves their swift and affirmative vote to help employers offer important telehealth services pre-deductible.”
About ATA Action
ATA Action recognizes that telehealth and virtual care have the potential to transform the healthcare delivery system by improving patient outcomes, enhancing the safety and effectiveness of care, addressing health disparities, and reducing costs. ATA Action is a registered 501c6 company and an affiliated trade organization of the ATA.
About the ATA
As the only organization completely focused on advancing telehealth, the American Telemedicine Association is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to safe, affordable, and appropriate care when and where they need it, enabling the system to do more good for more people. The ATA represents a broad and inclusive member network of leading healthcare delivery systems, academic institutions, technology solution providers and payers, as well as partner organizations and alliances, working to advance industry adoption of telehealth, promote responsible policy, advocate for government and market normalization, and provide education and resources to help integrate virtual care into emerging value-based delivery models.
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