by Matilda Charles
Medicare started paying for telehealth medical visits last year and will continue through the end of 2023. With telehealth, we sit in our homes and talk to our doctor on a screen, and Medicare pays for it. In the beginning, the number of telehealth visits skyrocketed—and then fell dramatically. Is that because we learned the hard way just what the limitations of telehealth really are?
There are people on both sides of the should seniors use telehealth debate. They both say they offer solid evidence for their opinion.
Those who claim it’s a great thing for us to consult with our doctors via a little screen say it’s helpful because it keeps us out of the doctor’s office. We don’t have to go in among all the germs, and we don’t need to worry about transportation.
On the other hand, those who are against telehealth appointments for seniors argue that many of us can’t even afford the very devices we would need for telehealth. Even if we have a cellphone, the screen is so small as to be worthless, especially if we have a vision or hearing problem. Then there are the plan fees needed for that device. What of privacy when we need someone at hand to help navigate the software for us? Do we really want our grandchildren sitting there when we discuss a personal issue with our doctor?
Even if we have a computer, one with a large monitor, how is that going to work when we need the doctor to look at a rash on our back? If we really ought to have a stethoscope pressed to our chest because of that ragged cough we’ve had for days?
Note: If you have original Medicare, you’ll pay the same amount for the telehealth appointment as you would if you got the services in person.