Telehealth Is On The Rise

Telehealth Is On The Rise text overlaying image of a phone Most of the time, doctors and other health care workers see their patients in person at a place like a doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. However, doctors and nurses can now diagnose, treat, and keep an eye on their patients’ care online. Thanks to computers, smartphones, and other new digital technologies. Using technology, telehealth is a way of providing health care services from a distance. It can be anything from doing medical visits over the computer to keeping an eye on a patient’s vital signs from afar. 


The best part is telemedicine isn’t an expensive luxury like some people believe. In fact, according to a study done by The American Medical Association 33.1% of adults living under 100% of the federal poverty level ($14,580 per year) have used telehealth in the last year. So why is telehealth so popular and how does it benefit you? We’re glad you asked. Telehealth has a lot of treatment uses and benefits that virtually anyone can enjoy.

Compare Health Plans Online

  • Let us help you find the right Health Insurance Plans for you

Telehealth Treatment

It may seem like a virtual treatment couldn’t be as thorough as an in-person appointment. While to an extent that’s true. Unless you need something like a shot or emergency care, a virtual appointment can do everything an in-person one can. All of the following things and services are possible with telehealth:


  • Recording vitals – You can send your weight, food intake, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar levels to your doctor either manually with at home equipment or a wearable monitor. 
  • Check test results – Telehealth isn’t just about appointments. You can also check your test results and prescription refills using the online portal. The online portal can also let you message your doctor directly or even schedule an appointment.
  • Coordinating care – You can share information like your test results, diagnoses, medications and exam notes between your PCP and any specialists you see. Right from the comfort of your own home.
  • Reminders – Telehealth includes being able to receive emails or texts as reminders for appointments, tests, or procedures.

Advantages Of Telehealth

Using technology to provide health care has many benefits. Such as saving money, being more convenient, and being able to help people who have trouble getting around or who live in distant areas without a nearby doctor or clinic. Because of these things, the use of telemedicine has grown significantly in the last ten years. Now, 76 percent of hospitals in the U.S. use telehealth to connect doctors and patients directly. Ten years ago, only 35 percent of hospitals did this.


During the COVID-19 virus outbreak, telehealth became even more important. People are more interested in and use technology to give and receive health care because they are afraid of sharing and getting the virus during in-person doctor visits. Other benefits include:

Improved access to providers

Most doctors who work in rural areas are family doctors or general practitioners. This means that they might not have access to or knowledge of more specialized kinds of medicine that rural patients need. Telehealth can help in this situation. Telemedicine software lets healthcare groups give patients in rural areas care that is more specialized. Or more up-to-date than they might otherwise be able to get. Patients are more likely to go to the doctor, now that it is easier for them since they can see providers without leaving their homes.


The main way that telehealth makes things better for patients is by making things easier for them. We all know that going to the doctor can be a pain. Taking time off work to drive 20–30 minutes to the doctor’s office, then sitting in the waiting room for another 20–30 minutes, having a short visit, and then driving home again is a lot of time. This makes people less likely to come in to see their healthcare provider. Telehealth cuts out almost all of that time and reduces it to a scheduled meeting that can be taken anywhere with a smartphone. It’s so much easier for patients, especially for appointments or checkups that don’t involve a physical test.

Improved patient health

Patients are much more likely to make arrangements for regular checkups and preventive care because telehealth makes it easy for them to do so. You might not think it’s worth the trouble to make an in-person meeting for something you think is small, but you could make a telehealth appointment instead. This means that you are living a healthier life generally and keeping an eye on how your health is going. Telehealth also has a lot of benefits for people who have long-term illnesses and have to follow a strict care plan. Routine checkups are much easier to do without having to go to the doctor’s office.


Remote patient monitoring and other more advanced types of virtual care can help you with chronic conditions even more by keeping track of important health data in real time so that problems can be caught as soon as they happen. Remote patient monitoring tools, such as blood pressure cuffs, smart blood glucose monitors, and heart rate monitors, can help telehealth and telemedicine appointments be more effective and improve your general health.

Find Health Insurance Plans In 3 Easy Steps

  • Let us help you find the right Health Insurance Plans for you


Telehealth makes it easy and cheap to see your doctor without leaving your house, but it does have a few drawbacks. Not every kind of visit can be done from afar. You still have to go to the office for things like imaging tests, blood work, and treatments that need a more hands-on approach. Cost is another slight downside. During the COVID-19 outbreak, insurance companies are paying for more and more telehealth visits. However, some services may not be fully covered, so you may have to pay for them yourself. Additionally, telehealth requires telecommunications equipment to function properly. However, in order to gain the benefits of telehealth, many patients must have access to laptops, mobile phones, and tablets.


People in remote locations suffer with limited internet bandwidth and unpredictable connectivity. To function efficiently and without latency, video conferencing requires high internet rates. Accessing telehealth services may be challenging if you do not have a constant, stable connection.

Is Telehealth Covered By Insurance?

Telehealth services are starting to be covered by some private insurance companies, but telehealth coverage is very different from one state to the next. This is because each state has its own way of defining telehealth and paying for it. Since insurance plans vary, it’s important to check with your insurance company or the billing department of your health care provider for the most up-to-date information on how telehealth services are covered.

Preparing For A Telehealth Appointment

If you are fortunate enough to have access to the necessary equipment and internet, preparing for a telehealth appointment is fairly easy. Although, some people may find it hard to switch from in-person to online meetings, especially if they aren’t used to the technology. By taking a few steps before your appointment to prepare, you can make sure your visit goes smoothly.

1.Add it to your calendar.

Add your meeting to your calendar so you don’t forget once it’s set.

2.Use the best camera.

This can be connected to your phone, laptop, tablet, or desktop computer. If you can give your doctor a clear picture of what’s going on, he or she will be better able to understand what’s going on and help you.

3.Test your camera and microphone.

Practice with a family member or friend before your online visit with your doctor to make sure you know how to use your camera and microphone. Most devices have microphones and speakers built in, but you may need to turn them on or allow the telehealth app or website to use them. Using headphones or earbuds may make it easier for you to hear your doctor and for your doctor to hear you, but you should try them out first to see what works best.

4.Check your internet connection.

If you aren’t using Wi-Fi, try using a wired connection to your router with an ethernet cable to get the best signal. If you are using Wi-Fi, you can improve your link by being close to the internet router and having as few devices as possible connected to it.

5.Charge the device.

If you’re using a phone, laptop, or tablet that doesn’t have a cord, make sure the battery is charged enough to get you through your meeting. Try to charge it the night before your meeting.

6.Find a good spot.

Try to keep your area as clear as possible. Try to go somewhere with good lighting so that your doctor can see you well. Put your device on a stable surface so you can move around if you need to. Try moving your device so that the camera can see your head and shoulders.

7.Write down questions

If you are ready for your visit, you and your doctor will be able to talk about everything you need to. So, write out your questions or concerns and any symptoms you want to remember to bring up.

Working With EZ

This is just the beginning of how healthcare will change in the future, and many companies want to be a part of telemedicine so that more people will go to the doctor and hopefully catch a problem before it gets worse. The first thing you need to do is find the right health insurance that covers telehealth. No one likes to spend hours reading about different plan perks and costs. So, why not let a professional do all the hard work for free? There is a way to get cheap health insurance without having to go through a lot of trouble. A qualified EZ insurance agent can explain what each plan’s pros and cons are, and help you come up with the plan that works best for you. 


Not to mention that EZ agents can save you hundreds of dollars a year on your health insurance bills. We do this by being able to look for the cheapest rates both on and off the market. We can also find and use any savings you might be able to get. Your agent won’t just help you find a plan, though. We also help you keep it up to date. We can help you make claims with your insurance company and help you renew your policy when it’s time. To get started, just type your zip code into the box below or call 877-670-3557 to talk to one of our certified agents.

Compare Health Plans Online

  • Let us help you find the right Health Insurance Plans for you

Medicare Telemedicine & Mental Health

Medicare has been a hot topic lately: the H.R. 3 bill, which would allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, is currently in the Senate waiting to be passed, and talks surrounding  expanding coverage to more older Americans continue on both sides. Not only that, but there have also been changes to Medicare brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, including the expansion of access to telemedicine. New guidance was recently issued by Congress and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on the delivery of psychology care services through the use of telemedicine, allowing psychologists to treat seniors through audio-only calls. But there are now new restrictions to mental health services provided through telemedicine that Medicare beneficiaries need to be aware of. 

Background: The Coronavirus Preparedness & Response Supplemental Appropriations Act 2020doctor with a hand holding a stethoscope coming out of a laptop screen

Under the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, which went into effect on April 30, 2020, CMS is now waiving telehealth requirements for Medicare beneficiaries in order to make it easier for them to access mental health services. Psychologists can now provide many of their typical services through audio-only calls, and can:

  • Provide telemedicine services from their home.
  • Provide services to new and established Medicare patients.
  • Offer Medicare patients telemedicine services in their homes.

In addition, telehealth services are now reimbursed for the same dollar amount as in-person visits.

The New Restrictions

a man with his hands on his head sitting across from a man in a suit with his hand on his chin
Medicare beneficiaries will now have to see a psychologist in person first before getting telemedicine coverage for mental health services.

While this step towards greater access to mental health care through telehealth has been good news for Medicare beneficiaries, there is now a new restriction on reimbursement for these services that threatens to put patients back to where they started. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 states that “Payment may not be made…for telehealth services furnished by a physician or practitioner to an eligible telehealth individual for purposes of diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment of a mental health disorder unless such physician or practitioner furnishes an item or service in-person, without the use of telehealth…” within the 6-month period prior to the first time the telehealth services are furnished.

In other words, under this new Act, a Medicare patient must first have an in-person examination before they can seek mental health services through telehealth. This is a change from previous laws surrounding telehealth, which in most states allowed doctor-patient relationships to be created through telemedicine without an in-person examination.

The coronavirus pandemic paved the way for telemedicine to become a more popular and widely used way to get medical care, including mental health care. Most government action surrounding telehealth has moved in the direction of expanding access to it, but unfortunately this new restriction is a step backwards, and will mean that Medicare patients will now need to see a doctor in-person before using telemedicine to get mental health care. 

It is unclear what the next step is going to be for telemedicine and mental health care, but if you are a Medicare beneficiary in need of mental health services, remember that they are still covered: Medicare Part B covers mental health services, as well as counseling services, and if you need help covering the 20% coinsurance that Medicare Part B does not cover, a Medicare Supplement Plan can help. If you are curious, or want to compare Medicare Supplement Plans in your area, EZ can help. To get free instant quotes, enter your zip code in the bar, or to speak to a licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

Understanding Emergency Care Vs Urgent Care & Telehealth

It’s 6 PM and your child is running a high fever. The pediatrician’s office is closed, but you want to speak to a doctor immediately. Should you go to the emergency room? Use telehealth services? Or should you head to an urgent care center? When you are faced with an unexpected illness or injury, it is important to understand the difference between emergency care, urgent care, and telehealth services. This knowledge can make a huge difference in the type of care that you receive and in how much money you could end up paying. 

Emergency Room

Emergency departments provide medical care at any time, day or night, for anyone experiencing serious injuries and life-threatening medical issues. While your first instinct might be to rush to the emergency room when illness strikes, it isn’t the best place to handle every bump, bruise, burn, cut, or fever. The less serious the condition is, the longer you will end up waiting for treatment at the emergency room. You should consider going to the emergency room when experiencing:

little girl with ice bag on her head and scratch on her shin with a doctor pointing 4 fingers up towards her
The emergency room is ideal when experiencing major issue such as a head injury.
  • Head or eye injuries
  • Slurred speech
  • Chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • Serious burns
  • Loss of vision
  • Stroke symptoms
  • Mental illness concerns 
  • Concussion or confusion
  • Fever with a rash
  • Fainting
  • Facial laceration
  • Seizures
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • Weakness or numbness on one side 

When visiting the emergency room, you will most likely end up paying a larger co-payment, and more coinsurance than after a visit to an urgent care facility. You will also have to meet your deductible before your healthcare plan begins paying for your costs.

Urgent Care

young caucasian girl holding her hear with her hand
Urgent care will treat minor illnesses and injuries, such as an ear ache.

Urgent care is not the same as emergency care, but these offices are a great backup for when your regular doctor is not available. They can handle a variety of medical problems that need to be treated right away, but are not considered true emergencies. They will perform basic lab tests and treat minor illnesses and injuries such as:

  • Minor fractures, sprains, and strains
  • Fever without a rash
  • Cough, sore throat, or sinus pain
  • General cold and flu symptoms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Ear pain
  • Dehydration
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Small cuts that require stitches

Urgent care facilities offer fast, convenient access to medical care, and are normally staffed by nurse practitioners and physician’s assistants. You will generally pay less for treatment at an urgent care facility than you would at an ER, and most accept insurance. Make sure to ask if they accept your insurance before you go to the urgent care facility or accept treatment. The best part of urgent care is that they work hand-in-hand with emergency rooms, so if they cannot treat your condition, then they will refer you to the closest emergency room.


Telemedicine is usually the most convenient option for immediate help. If you are feeling ill, you can call and speak to a doctor over the phone from the comfort of your own home. During a virtual visit, a doctor will help with the same things that you would normally have to wait days or weeks to discuss with your primary care physician.

young african american girl holding a thermometer in her hand with a doctor on the laptop screen.
Telehealth is convenient for cough, cold, or flu symptoms, and more.

Consider using a telehealth visit when you have one of the following concerns:

  • Cough, cold, flu, or other respiratory infections
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Allergy and asthma flare-ups
  • Joint aches and pain
  • Rashes or insect bites
  • Small wounds or infections

Not everything can be treated during a video or telephone visit with your doctor. If you actually need in-person care, then you should consider going to an urgent care facility to be treated. 

Your primary care physician knows your history, and knows best how to take care of your health concerns. But during times of emergencies when you or a loved one is sick or injured, and your doctor’s office is closed, you need to seek help elsewhere. Understanding the difference between emergency room care, urgent care, and telehealth will help you save time and money.

Telehealth Is Changing The Landscape of Senior Healthcare

For seniors, access to healthcare can be a real issue. Research has shown that, despite the universality of Medicare, seniors in the United States face greater barriers to healthcare and are overall sicker than their counterparts in other high-income countries. With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing shelter-in-place orders and a particular risk for seniors, we are now faced with an even more pressing need for accessible healthcare. Telehealth can help bridge this gap, and we are seeing seniors and healthcare facilities turn to it in large numbers  – one medical center in New York saw telehealth visits increase from 300 per day pre-COVID to 7,000 per day in the peak of the pandemic. Will this much usage continue after the pandemic has died down? It’s possible that telehealth is changing the landscape of healthcare, so let’s look at what telehealth is, and how it can play a role in supporting seniors’ health for the long term. 

What Is Telehealth?

older man holding a tablet with a doctor on the tablet and holding medicine bottle in the other hand.
Telehealth offers you the ability to speak to your doctor from the comfort of your home.

Telehealth is a variety of methods for remote healthcare services, communications, and education. The four main categories of telehealth are:

  • Live, synchronous video calls: A two-way conversation in real time between patient and provider.
  • Asynchronous transmissions: Recorded health histories that are transmitted electronically to another healthcare provider. This is particularly useful in rural areas, as it allows a primary care physician to consult with specialists in another location. 
  • Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM): Often used for seniors, especially those living in senior communities, RPM collects patients’ health data and then electronically transfers it to healthcare providers for monitoring and review. 
  • Mobile Health (mHealth): mHealth makes use of health-based apps that can be used on tablets, laptops, or smartphones. Apps range from ones that can monitor a diabetic’s blood sugar levels to daily reminders to drink enough water.  

Post-COVID Benefits for Seniors

Telehealth has been a great healthcare option for seniors (and everyone else) during the coronavirus crisis, as it has meant fewer visits to the doctor and less risk of virus transmission. But its benefits go beyond helping to flatten the curve during a pandemic. Some experts foresee that telehealth is around for the long haul, because it allows for: 

  • Routine monitoring of chronic conditions. With aging comes more chronic health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis. These conditions require regular monitoring by healthcare professionals. Telehealth can save on the cost of frequent visits, while still allowing doctors to keep tabs on things like blood pressure, sugar levels, and pain. 
  • Regular sick visits. Many people forego visits to the doctor when they’re sick due to cost, scheduling issues, or lack of transportation. Telehealth makes seeing the doctor easier, and means doctors are more likely to catch an illness before it turns into something more serious, like a common cold that could become pneumonia. 
  • network with different colored pieces connected by different lines
    With telemedicine, you can see any doctor from different cities or states. 

    Improved communication. When monitoring multiple conditions, as many seniors are, it can be helpful to have a second person in the doctor’s office, noting things like medication changes, symptoms to look out for, and risk factors. Telehealth makes it easier for a family member or caregiver to keep track of what happens at appointments, making for better continuity of care. 

  • Range of care. With telemedicine, seniors have access to a wider range of providers, such as specialists in other cities or even across the country. This improves quality of care and makes treatment that was previously inaccessible much more realistic. 
  • Removal of barriers. Pandemic or not, there are always barriers to treatment, such as location and mobility. For seniors who live in rural areas, are unable to drive, do not feel comfortable with or are unable to navigate public transportation, or have mobility issues, telehealth makes a visit to the doctor’s office much less stressful. 

What Happens Next?

In order to make telehealth a reality nationally, a lot needs to change. To start with, over 19 million people in the United States lack access to the internet speeds required for telehealth, and others would need technology like a smartphone or tablet with a camera. Furthermore, funding is a huge issue. Currently, some insurers have temporarily expanded coverage to support telehealth throughout the pandemic. Some representatives in Congress have recently introduced a bipartisan bill called the HEALTH Act, which calls for Medicare reimbursement to support telehealth services in community health centers and rural health clinics. The bill notes that “access to telehealth has become more than just a convenience, but rather a critical necessity in America”. 

What do you think? Have you used telehealth? How was your experience? Tell us about it in the comments section! 

The New Telehealth Guidelines For COVID-19

On March 6,2020, Congress signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provides emergency relief to the nation during the current COVID-19 health emergency. In order to protect Americans and get ahead of the spread of the virus, the bill allows for expanded use of telemedicine services. The bill also includes waivers to certain Medicare restrictions to protect vulnerable seniors, allowing everyone to receive telehealth care covered by Medicare throughout this crisis. 

caucasian man in bed with a tissue in one hand and thermomter in the other with a laptop on the bed and a doctor on the screen.
Telehealth can be useful in many situations, especially when patients cannot get to their doctor’s office.

What Is Telehealth?

Telehealth refers to the exchange of medical information using some form of real-time video chat. It can be useful in many situations, especially when patients cannot get to their doctor’s office. Health insurance companies and Medicare do normally cover some telehealth services, including doctor’s visits and consultations, but only in limited circumstances. Prior to the waiver signed in March, patients generally needed to live in a rural area to have their telehealth care covered. They also needed to be at one of the following locations: 

  • A doctor’s office
  • A hospital
  • A critical access hospital (CAH)
  • A rural health clinic 
  • A federally qualified health center
  • A hospital-based dialysis facility
  • A skilled nursing facility
  • A community mental health center

These restrictions obviously meant that patients would often have to leave their homes in order to access telehealth services, which is not ideal during a pandemic.  

Changes to Telehealth Services

Not only will insurance providers now cover these visits, but there are other key changes that extend coverage during this crisis.

  • The Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General is allowing healthcare providers to waive cost-sharing requirements for COVID-19-related telehealth visits. 
  • The CMS has waived reimbursement restrictions on practicing across state lines. However, doctors will still need a state licensure to deliver care in that state.
  • The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has eased restrictions on the types of controlled substances providers can prescribe during a telehealth visit.

    hundred dollar bills sprawled out on a table
    Medicare will pay for brief (5-10 minute) “virtual check-ins.”
  • Medicare will pay for brief (5-10 minute) “virtual check-ins” with a patient’s normal doctor, no matter where they are located. The usual copay and deductible for these check-ins will be waived.
  • Providers can use popular apps for video chats, such as Apple FaceTime, Good Hangouts video, Skype, and Facebook Messenger video chat.
  • The HHS Office of Civil Rights will waive penalties for HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violations against healthcare providers who use video chatting apps with their patients “in good faith.” This means they will not be held responsible for any claims of violations of privacy.

Temporary Medicare Regulations

As discussed above, telehealth coverage is limited under normal circumstances. However, we are now in the middle of a global pandemic and it is very important that seniors stay at home and avoid contact with others. COVID-19 is highly contagious and more deadly for older adults (as well as those with compromised immune systems), so going to a doctor’s office now can present serious health risks for people over 65. 

The new legislation signed in March allows the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand telehealth services available to Medicare beneficiaries so that they do not have to travel to their doctor’s office. According to, now “doctors and other health care providers can use telehealth services to treat COVID-19 (and for other medically reasonable purposes) from offices, hospitals, and places of residence (like homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.” These visits will be covered at the same rates as face-to-face visits for the time being.  

Telehealth services are being extended during the current COVID-19 pandemic in order to reduce the risk of infection in doctors’ offices. These changes will allow doctors to provide care without worrying about packing their offices with vulnerable patients, and patients to stay home and receive care without worrying about an unexpected bill.

Coronavirus Update: Week 1

As everyone is now aware, we are currently in the middle of a global pandemic. This week, Italy recorded its lowest death toll since the beginning of the outbreak, but other countries, including the U.S., cannot say the same. Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have now surpassed those of China and Italy, leaving the U.S. as the global leader in cases. As of April 1, the current total number of cases in the U.S. was 186,101, with 3,603 deaths. 

face mask on top of 100 dollar bills.
Health insurance providers Cigna and Humana have waived cost-sharing fees for treatment of and testing for the coronavirus.

The spread shows no signs of slowing down, with some reports indicating that the number of cases is doubling every two days. New measures are being taken to help slow the spread of the virus, to ensure more Americans are receiving healthcare, and to boost the economy.

Cost-Sharing Fees Waived

Health insurance providers Cigna and Humana have waived cost-sharing fees for treatment of and testing for the coronavirus. Patients will not have to pay any deductibles, copays, or coinsurance. Aetna has also signed on to some of this arrangement, but will only waive cost sharing for inpatient hospital admissions related to the virus.

New Telehealth GuidelinesCaucasian woman sitting in her bed with a laptop open in front of her.

Under the president’s 1135 waiver authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations (CARES) Act, telehealth services have been expanded. The expansion is considered temporary and is on an emergency basis. Services and costs will be covered in order to prevent people making unnecessary trips to the doctors’ office. Medicare will also cover these services for their beneficiaries so that they will be able to speak to their doctor from the safety of their own homes.

Job Loss & Stimulus Checks

With many states issuing “stay at home” orders, many businesses that are considered nonessential have been forced to close and Americans have been losing their jobs at record rates. The number of jobless claims, currently 3.3 million, continues to rise, marking the largest unemployment rate jump in U.S. history. To help with this situation President Trump has signed a  $2 trillion bipartisan economic stimulus bill. The bill includes $1,200 government checks for individuals making under $75,000 a year, and an expansion of unemployment insurance.

Malaria Drug Trials

Box filled with pills in cases
The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine showed promise in fighting coronavirus in a small trial of patients.

The malaria drug hydroxychloroquine showed promise in fighting coronavirus in a small trial of patients in a Chinese study. Those who received the drug experienced a quicker  spike in their fevers and coughs than those without the treatment. This faster spike meant that the patients experienced shorter periods with coughs and fevers, suggesting that the drug can help speed recovery time. The FDA has issued an emergency authorization for experimental treatments of this drug. Hydroxychloroquine  will be “distributed and prescribed by doctors to hospitalized teen and adult patients with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible,” HHS said. The FDA has allowed New York to begin using the drugs to treat seriously ill patients as part of an “observational” trial.