Mental Health Practitioners Move to Online Services
25 June 2020
High unemployment, social isolation as well as coronavirus related fears could contribute to driving up depression rates. As a result of social-distancing requirements, many mental health practitioners have been unable to see patients in person and so have made the move to offering online mental health services. The CARES act included $425 million for mental health and substance abuse care. The act also repealed the Medicare requirement allowing a health care professional to see a patient via a telehealth appointment only if they had seen the patient within the past 3 years.
Many insurers also began to take steps to remove barriers to accessing telehealth services for mental health. However, companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, and UnitedHealthcare have reported that improved telehealth benefits may not apply to self-insured plans. Although many patients will return to face to face sessions when it is safe to do so, online therapy can be a less intimidating option for patients who may not have sought help in person as it allows them to receive help from the comfort of their own home. For this reason, it is likely that demand for online therapy will continue after in person sessions resume.
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