Medicare beneficiaries continue to use telehealth: AMA

The American Medical Association has published a report on telehealth use among Medicare beneficiaries using data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

The report follows the December extension of telehealth payment flexibilities for two years by Congress. This extension was a provision in the $1.7 trillion bipartisan omnibus bill and was one of several supported by the AMA.

Here are six takeaways to know from the Feb. 6 report as physicians continue to work on making telehealth a permanent part of healthcare landscape:

  1. Nineteen percent of the more than 22 million telehealth-eligible Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth services in the first quarter of 2022. Fifteen percent accessed telehealth in the second quarter.
  2. In the first quarter, 20 percent of women and 17 percent of men used telehealth services. Sixteen percent of women and 14 percent of men used the services in the second quarter.
  3. Telehealth use is more common among younger Medicare beneficiaries, with 34 percent of beneficiaries younger than 65 using the services in the first quarter. Meanwhile, only 18 percent of beneficiaries between 65 and 74 and 16 percent of beneficiaries 75 and older used telehealth.
  4. Beneficiaries with disabilities are among the most likely to use telehealth. In the first quarter, 34 percent of those eligible for Medicare due to a disability assessed telehealth.
  5. Medicare beneficiaries in urban areas are more likely to use telehealth, with 20 percent of beneficiaries in the first quarter and 16 percent in the second quarter in urban areas accessing telehealth, compared to 15 and 11 percent of rural beneficiaries, respectively.
  6. Twenty six percent of Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries accessed telehealth in the first quarter. Meanwhile, 25 percent of Asian American or Pacific Islander beneficiaries, 21 percent of American Indian or Alaskan Native beneficiaries and 21 percent of African American beneficiaries and 18 percent of white beneficiaries who were eligible for the telehealth program took advantage of it.

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