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Wellmark: Virtual mental health visits up 3,000% since pandemic began


New survey data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association shows that 3 in 4 Americans with behavioral health conditions are continuing therapy services during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the prevalence of virtual visits and other digital health services. Further, while 42% of people reported delaying a health care appointment due to the pandemic, only 16% said they have delayed a mental health appointment. In Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has seen virtual visits for behavioral health increase among its members since March when the company began encouraging its members to use virtual health care visits to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Since then, virtual visits for behavioral health conditions have increased by more than 3,000%, the insurer said in a press release. Wellmark has handled claims for approximately 460,000 virtual visits for its Iowa and South Dakota members since the pandemic began, officials said. Most of the virtual visit claims received have been for existing patients seeking to continue their behavioral health services, according to Wellmark. The insurer is waiving the member cost-share for virtual visits until Aug. 31 for appropriate medical and behavioral health care visits when seeking care from an in-network provider.

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