Telehealth treatments for injured workers declining in 2021, report shows

Accident in warehouse
Telehealth claims are down 33% so far this year.

The number of telehealth treatments for Florida workers injured on the job declined sharply in the first nine months of the year compared to the same time frame last year, a new Department of Financial Services report shows.

Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2021, workers’ compensation insurance carriers paid 29,517 telehealth bills submitted by health care providers authorized to treat injured patients, from medical doctors and advanced registered nurse practitioners to licensed mental health counselors.

That’s a near 33% reduction from the 41,090 telehealth workers’ compensation claims submitted during the first nine months of 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, by the end of 2020, 64,749 telehealth bills had been filed.

It’s unlikely, with just three months left in 2021, the number of telehealth bills submitted will equal or surpass 2020 levels.

And as the number of telehealth claims filed this year has dropped, so has the total aggregate amount paid to health care providers.

Carriers have paid $3,465,886 to settle the 29,517 telehealth bills that had been submitted through Sept. 30. By this time last year, though, carriers paid $4,609,140 to settle 41,909 telehealth claims.

The telehealth data is contained in a monthly workers’ compensation report published by Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. Among other things, the monthly reports show the number of workers’ compensation claims filed as well as the percentage of claims related to COVID-19.

The telehealth claims information is for all workers’ compensation claims, not just for those related to COVID-19. Over the course of the pandemic, 94,266 telehealth claims have been filed, and insurance carriers have paid nearly $11 million to settle those claims, reports show.

A breakout of the claims shows medical doctors submitted about 48% of the telehealth workers’ compensation bills in the nearly two years since the pandemic started and have received about 44% of the payments made, or $4,799,054

About 19% of the workers’ compensation telehealth bills have been filed by physical therapists who have received about 18% of the payout, or $1,998,670.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.



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