Spending Bill Extends Telehealth Coverage For HDHPs Through 2024

When the pandemic hit, many measures were implemented to make telehealth more accessible to patients, including a rule in the 2020 CARES Act which says companies could choose to offer telehealth coverage to employees insured under HSA-qualifying high-deductible health plans, even before their deductible was met. Originally intended to expire at the end of 2021, the policy was later extended through the end of 2022. Now, it’s been extended a second time, with the most recent government spending bill reinstating the provision through at least December 31, 2024, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.

The recent spending bill also authorized the continued use of telehealth for Medicare patients for two more years, SHRM reports.

“Pre-deductible coverage helps employees because it allows insurance providers to cover telehealth services without requiring a co-pay or deductible upfront,” comments SHRM chief of staff, head of public affairs, and corporate secretary Emily Dickens, in their coverage of the change. “Employers need the flexibility to design benefit plans that improve employees’ wellbeing and help retain top talent.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, around 17% of companies who provide health insurance to employees offered HSA-qualifying HDHPs in 2021. HSA-qualifying HDHPs are particularly popular amongst companies with over 200 employees, more than half of whom offer these high-deductible plans, per KFF.

Likewise, as high deductible health plans are growing in popularity, so is telehealth. Nearly a quarter of all respondents to a 2021 government survey say they had used telehealth services within the last month, with Medicare and Medicaid users reporting even higher usage rates of 27.4% and 29.3% respectively.

But there are some concerns about telehealth services, including its accessibility: promoted by some as telehealth’s biggest virtue, ease of access has led others to worry about opportunities for fraud and spiking costs, according to Mercer.


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