- While telemedicine has been widely touted as a good option during a time of stay-at-home orders, more than half of respondents to a recent survey of more than 1,000 individuals said they had no plans to use telemedicine during the pandemic. The survey, conducted by healthinsurance.com, also found that 67% had not received information from their regular doctors about telemedicine and a similar percentage had received no telemedicine info from their health insurers.
- In other findings, 56% of respondents said they were unaware of other health insurance options should they lose coverage during the pandemic. Nearly a quarter said they're already out of work due to the pandemic; 9% of that group has also lost their health insurance.
- Additionally, more than than half of respondents said they don't have enough money saved to cover potential COVID-19 medical costs. The survey also found that 46% of respondents "would think twice" about seeking medical care right now, due to the cost.
Even before the pandemic, benefits costs were predicted to rise nearly 4% in 2020. Telemedicine popularity has been on the upswing as a cost-saving measure, along with around-the-clock nurse hotlines, prior authorization requirements and claims utilization analysis that identifies employees' key health concerns. But employees, at least so far, have not widely embraced the technology.
"We’ve had telemedicine for years, but engagement rates for those [solutions] are abysmally low," Kate Brown, leader of Mercer’s Center for Health Innovation, previously told HR Dive. "The uptake has just not been there." Brown said employers could improve engagement rates by working with carriers, many of which may simply be unaware their business partners offer virtual solutions.
COVID-19 is, however, providing a boost to virtual healthcare solutions as employers look for ways to keep employees healthy and safe. According to new Willis Towers Watson research, 86% of surveyed employers are promoting the use of nurse lines, telemedicine or virtual healthcare visits, and 58% are increasing access to tele-behavioral health options.