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By: Rachel Quinn

Telehealth, a term taking the nation by storm due to recent Covid-19 related events, is becoming an important part of many American’s everyday vocabulary.  Healthcare professionals have urged people to stay in their homes as the spread of Covid-19 comes to a peak all over the world.  The new “normal”, that everyone is adjusting to leaves little room for getting to the doctor’s office as one would normally.  Individuals have been asked not to seek attention at healthcare facilities unless it is an absolute emergency in effort to contain the spread of this life altering pandemic, and that is where Telehealth, also recognized as Telemedicine, comes into play.

A Brief History of Telehealth

In an effort to best explain Telehealth, we should cover a brief history of its creation.  Telehealth can be traced as far back as the use of smoke signals, horns, and drums used in ancient civilizations as a way to communicate over a long distance.  Telehealth became mainstream through the creation of telegraph and telephones during the U.S Civil War, allowing military and naval bases to communicate shortage of medical supplies and injury on the battlefield. Telehealth stayed on the rise in the coming years with the installations of phones in hospitals across the nation, making it easier to relay information.  However, telehealth has not always been an easy feat, in early projects regarding telehealth there was stress on the bulky machines and technologies involved as well as the need for highly trained staff.  The rise of the internet in the 90’s saw a major breakthrough in telemedicine however and it has been non-stop from that point.  Now, with the majority of the adult world using a smartphone or handheld device that can connect to the internet, Telehealth is easier to use than ever and has the potential to drive down the cost of healthcare services.

What does this mean for you during a global pandemic and a rise in health care awareness?

In Tennessee there are several insurance carriers like Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Ambetter, who offer coverage for the use of Telehealth.  Specifically, these local health insurance providers are offering the use of telemedicine as part of qualifying health plans.  These providers have partnered with companies like PhysicianNow, Teladoc and Amwell to allow those in qualifying plans access to their providers right from the comfort of their homes.  Telehealth can be used to diagnose a variety of commonly treated conditions, right from your smartphone or tablet device, like:

  • Rashes
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Allergies
  • Bronchitis
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Sore Throat
  • Headaches

Your provider will then have the capability of calling in any prescriptions you may need to your local pharmacy if medically necessary.  Right now, BCBS of Tennessee is allowing its members to receive Telehealth consultations at the same price as an in-person visit and will continue this effort until April 30th.  If you are unsure whether or not your health insurance plan covers Telehealth consultations as a part of your coverage, you should call the number on the back of your insurance card and speak to a representative about your benefits.

As always at American Exchange, it is our duty to ensure each client has access to their health insurance providers.  If you are struggling to get in touch with your insurance carrier or would simply like to know the benefits available to you in regards to telehealth, feel free to give us a call Monday through Friday 8am-5pm at our main line 423-424-0586.