Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the latest big insurer to start encouraging telemedicine for plan members with relatively minor complaints. As of July 1, BCBS will be working with American Well to offer the service to employers with fully insured and PPO policies. Plans see the new technology as a way to reduce costs—mainly by keeping patients out of the emergency room, which aligns perfectly with the urgent care approach—and to meet consumer demand. BCBS’s plan means some 2 million patients will now be able to connect with providers remotely. The company tested the waters with a limited program that started in January. Use has been lower than expected, however, so it will increase promotion and start reaching out directly to employers to encourage more participation. In addition, a recent survey by the National Business Group on Health found that 74% of respondents said they intended to offer a telemedicine benefit in 2016, up from 48% last year.
Urgent Care Take Note: Insurers Are Warming to Telemedicine