In hopes of limiting visits to doctors’ offices and potential exposure to COVID-19, Medicare will now reimburse costs for telehealth services. Ensurem CEO Dave Rich commends the policy change and says more are needed.
(Clearwater, FL) APRIL 14, 2020 – In an effort to prevent healthy and sick Americans alike from visiting doctors’ offices in person and risk potentially spreading or contracting the novel coronavirus, the Trump administration recently announced that Medicare will now cover the costs associated to doctor appointments done via phone or videoconference.(1) “This new policy meets a real and urgent need and should be made permanent,” says Dave Rich, CEO of Ensurem, LLC—a leading online multi-carrier insurance brokerage.
In addition to Medicare’s new coverage of telehealth services, a number of deregulatory steps are being taken or considered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) during the COVID-19 crisis to expedite the delivery of care to those in need:
- Given the danger of virus and its burden on the nation’s healthcare providers, Americans are overwhelmingly postponing or cancelling elective surgeries. The 5,000 or so idled surgery centers in the U.S. could be used for critical but time-consuming cancer therapies, freeing hospital space and staff to focus on the coronavirus.
- Paraprofessionals—for example, nurse anesthetists—could function “at the top of their license”, providing anesthesia in surgery without supervision, allowing anesthesiologists to serve in intensive care.
- Emergency healthcare workers have been permitted to screen patients using telehealth outside the emergency room, reducing the number of ER personnel requiring scarce protective equipment. (2)
To better provide for the healthcare needs of both seniors and others as well, Rich suggests that in addition to medical services (such as telehealth screening), the insurance purchase process should be automated. Just as there is a shortage of ER-admitting doctors, there is a growing scarcity of insurance agents in the U.S. (3), which slows down the process of accurately evaluating and purchasing life and health insurance, thus contributing to the nation’s devastatingly high medical bankruptcy rate. (4)
Even with Ensurem’s state-of-the-art technology, Rich notes the application process is only partly digital. Customers must still speak with an agent before they can buy coverage online. However, Rich says it may soon be possible to eliminate the need for human involvement via web-based tools, predictive analytics, and direct access to the necessary personal data to match a person to a product and price.
“This is a problem Ensurem was created to solve,” Rich says. “We are a technology company that is working with insurance companies to build the analytic tools to determine the best price for seniors and all our other customers, and the educational tools to allow them to compare their options in real time.”
Ensurem, headquartered in Clearwater, FL, is a leading technology and product distribution company serving carriers and consumers within the massive U.S. senior market. The company provides end-to-end solutions for carriers, including product development, digital marketing, and consumer-centric front ends and back end. For more information, visit http://www.ensurem.com.
1. Facher, Lev, “Trump lifts restrictions on telehealth services for seniors in hopes of limiting coronavirus spread,” Stat News, March 17, 2020, statnews.com/2020/03/17/trump-telehealth-restrictions/.
2. Kelly, Mary Louise, “To Stop the Pandemic, Seema Verma Is ‘Getting Rid Of A Lot Of Regulations,’” NPR, March 31. 2020, npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/31/824484234/to-stop-the-pandemic-seema-verma-is-getting-rid-of-a-lot-of-regulations.
3. “Insurers, Brokers, and Agents Need to Prepare for Looming Talent Shortages,” WEX Health, September 5, 2017, wexinc.com/insights/blogs/health/insurers/.
4. Konish, Lorie, “This is the real reason most Americans file for bankruptcy,” CNBC, February 11, 2019, cnbc.com/2019/02/11/this-is-the-real-reason-most-americans-file-for-bankruptcy.html
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