Report: Mental Health Treatment Continues to Dominate Telehealth Claims Data

June 17, 2024
The percentage of telehealth claims for mental health increased nationally and in the Northeast and South, stayed the same in the West, and fell in the Midwest, according FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker

A snapshot of national telehealth utilization based on claims data shows  that in every region of the country, mental health conditions top the diagnostic categories for virtual healthcare, with 67.9 percent of telehealth claim lines.

In March 2024, telehealth utilization decreased nationally and in the South, but increased in the three other U.S. census regions (Midwest, Northeast and West), according to FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker.

FAIR Health is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing transparency to healthcare costs and health insurance information through data products, consumer resources and health systems research support. FAIR Health says it possesses the nation's largest collection of commercial healthcare claims data, which includes over 46 billion claim records and is growing at a rate of over 3 billion claim records a year.

Nationally, medical claim lines associated with telehealth fell from 4.79 percent in February to 4.73 percent in March, a decrease of 1.3 percent. In the South, the decrease was 3.1 percent. In the Midwest, the share of claim lines rose 2.2 percent; in the Northeast, it rose 3.4 percent; and in the West, it rose 0.1 percent. The data represent the commercially insured population, excluding Medicare Fee-for-Service, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid.

From February to March 2024, the rankings of the top five telehealth diagnostic categories remained the same nationally and in every region except the West. There, encounter for examination dropped from the third position out of the top five; developmental disorders rose from the fifth to third position; and endocrine and metabolic disorders joined the list in the fifth position.

Nationally and in every region, mental health conditions remained in the first position. The percentage of telehealth claim lines for mental health conditions increased nationally and in the Northeast and South, stayed the same in the West and fell in the Midwest.

Mental health diagnoses
There was no change in the rankings of the top five mental health diagnoses from February to March 2024. Nationally and in every region, the top five mental health diagnoses in both months were: generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, adjustment disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Together, generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder accounted for more than 50 percent of mental health telehealth claim lines nationally and in every region in both months.

From February to March 2024, the rankings of the top five telehealth provider specialties remained the same nationally and in every region. Social worker was in the first position nationally and in all regions. In March, at the national level, social worker accounted for 35.4 percent of telehealth claim lines. Across regions, it varied from 29.9 percent in the South to 41.7 percent in the Midwest.

In March 2024, as in February, the age group 31 to 40 accounted for the largest share of telehealth claim lines nationally and in the South and West, while the age group 19 to 30 accounted for the largest share in the Midwest and Northeast. In both months, the age groups 19-30 and 31-40 each accounted for more than 20 percent of telehealth claim lines nationally and in every region.

Costs
Nationally and in the Northeast, the median allowed amount for CPT 97802 (therapy procedure for nutrition management, each 15 minutes) in March 2024 was the same ($36) in an office as when rendered via telehealth. In the Midwest and South, the cost was higher in an office than via telehealth: In the Midwest, the office cost was $46 and the telehealth cost $43; in the South, the office cost was $33 and the telehealth cost $29. In one region, the West, the median allowed amount was higher via telehealth ($49) than in an office ($39).

"We are happy to share these varying windows into telehealth utilization as it continues to evolve. This is one of the many ways we pursue our healthcare transparency mission,” said FAIR Health President Robin Gelburd, in a statement

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