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Majority of Americans Value the Convenience Associated with Telehealth

Mark Melchionna

December 07, 2022

New survey results released by AHIP showed that most Americans highly value the simplicity and convenience associated with telehealth and support making pre-deductible telehealth coverage permanent.

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) described survey results indicating that Americans value the convenience associated with telehealth, with 69 percent saying they prefer it over in-person care for this reason.

As the COVID-19 pandemic became increasingly severe, many patients and providers began to use telehealth at a higher frequency. This was supported by federal and state governments allowing flexibilities that removed barriers to this type of care, leading to improved patient access.

The high level of telehealth use has continued during the pandemic, even following the drop in COVID-19 severity as vaccines and treatments became widely available. According to the FAIR Health Monthly Telehealth Regional tracker, telehealth use increased by 10.2 percent in May.

A survey released by AHIP aimed to gather information regarding Americans' opinions on telehealth. Conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago and using the AmeriSpeak panel, the survey polled 1,000 Americans, 498 of whom have employer-provided or individual market coverage, regarding telehealth use within one year prior. The survey was fielded in October.

Among the portion of survey respondents who were commercially insured, 40 percent claimed to have used telehealth within a year prior, and 53 percent claimed to have used it between two and five times within a year prior.

About 69 percent of commercially insured telehealth users said they used telehealth due to the associated high level of convenience compared to in-person care, 78 percent stated that telehealth made the process of seeking out healthcare easier, and 85 percent said there is an adequate number of providers available via telehealth for their subjective needs.

Also, 73 percent of commercial telehealth users stated that Congress should make permanent arrangements that allow for the coverage of telehealth services prior to paying their full deductible.

Further, female telehealth users were almost four times as likely than men to say they participated in a telehealth appointment because they lacked childcare or eldercare, the survey shows.

“Patients and providers accept – and often prefer – digital technologies as an essential part of health care delivery,” said Jeanette Thornton, executive vice president of policy and strategy at AHIP, in a press release. “Telehealth can be just as effective as in-person care for many conditions and allows patients to receive more services ‘where they are.’ That’s why health insurance providers are committed to strengthening and improving both access and use for the millions of Americans who use telehealth for their health care needs.”

A report from July found similar patient opinions of telehealth. Released by CVS Health, the 2022 Health Care Insights Study reported survey results from two separate questionnaires.

Around 92 percent of respondents stated that convenience is a critical factor when selecting a primary care provider. The surveys also reported that many consumers find virtual appointments more convenient than in-person visits because they didn’t have to leave home (41 percent), they didn't have to pay for transportation (37 percent), and they saved time (37 percent).

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