BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and BlueChoice HealthPlan of South Carolina are increasing access to specialty care for members in underserved areas with the launch of a telemedicine program.
The companies will be able to receive claims for securely provided telemedicine consultations. Initially, the program will cover three specialties: high-risk pregnancies (maternal-fetal medicine), strokes (vascular neurology) and mental health (psychiatry). Telemedicine claims from these specialties will be uniquely coded when sent to BlueCross or BlueChoice. Later phases may include other specialties.
Members who could benefit from the new service include those who are insured or in group plans administered by BlueCross or BlueChoice. They include federal employees, state health plan members, and people who hold BlueCross insurance from another state but receive medical treatment in South Carolina.
Recent research has indicated that telemedicine can play an important role in rural emergency departments, which often lack specialists and tools needed to treat pediatric patients.
“Our intent is to improve access for our members in rural areas and small towns to specialty care and mental health providers, who tend to be in the state’s metropolitan areas,” Laura Long, BlueCross’ chief medical officer and vice president, said in a statement.“We also expect this to increase cost efficiency, reduce transportation barriers, improve quality of care and communication among providers and our members, and in some cases to save lives.”