Poll: Medicare Advantage members are taking to telehealth

A new poll found that roughly half of seniors are comfortable using telehealth to get healthcare, and those that do largely say they had a favorable experience.

The poll, conducted by Morning Consult and sponsored by the Better Medicare Alliance, comes as providers and insurers have started to embrace telehealth amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey of more than 1,000 seniors found 52% are comfortable using telehealth for their healthcare, with 30% uncomfortable and another 18% unsure.

But among those people who did use telehealth, there was a massive positive response.

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Among those surveyed, 91% said they had a favorable experience with telehealth, and 78% added they plan to do so again.

Another 73% of seniors on Medicare Advantage (MA) still had their healthcare needs addressed either by telehealth or in person, and 27% said they have experienced an interruption with their healthcare.

The survey also found widespread satisfaction (99%) with their Medicare coverage, and another 64% were very satisfied.

The results come as providers and insurers question the role telehealth will have in healthcare after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) gave providers more flexibility to get reimbursement from Medicare for telehealth.

The agency also released a proposed rule that lets MA plans offer and discount telehealth for any specialty care and gave other telehealth flexibility for plans. 

"This flexibility will encourage plans to enhance their benefits to give beneficiaries access to the latest telehealth technologies and increase plan choices for beneficiaries residing in rural areas," CMS said in a release.

The rule also encourages MA plans to boost telehealth benefits and increase plan options for rural residents.

A survey of physicians found nearly half of doctors offices are now using telehealth, compared with 18% two years ago.