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Telehealth has become increasingly common among Medicare participants, particularly since the emergence of COVID-19 and introduction of related telehealth flexibilities in Fee-For-Service (FFS) Medicare. Nearly half (43.5%) of FFS Medicare primary care visits were provided via telehealth in April 2020, compared with less than one percent before the public health emergency (PHE) in February 2020 (0.1%). Beneficiaries dually enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, and high-cost Medicare beneficiaries had similar patterns in the use of primary care in-person and telehealth visits as other Medicare beneficiaries. Providers in rural counties had smaller increases in Medicare primary care telehealth visits compared with providers in urban areas who had much greater use of telehealth visits early in the PHE. For example, the share of primary care visits conducted via telehealth rose from 0.2% in February 2020 to 60.2% in April 2020 in San Francisco and from 0.1% to 46.3% in Los Angeles.1
- Bosworth A, Ruhter J, Samson LW, Sheingold S, Taplin C, Tarazi W, and Zuckerman R, Medicare Beneficiary Use of Telehealth Visits: Early Data from the Start of COVID-19 Pandemic. Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. July 28, 2020 https://aspe.hhs.gov/system/files/pdf/263866/HP_IssueBrief_MedicareTelehealth_final7.29.20.pdf