Telemedicine 2021

Jan. 18, 2021

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) expanded access to telemedicine services to give our members greater access to care. The experience confirmed the importance of telemedicine in health care delivery. Members can access their medically necessary, covered benefits through providers who deliver services through telemedicine. Many of our members also have access to various telemedicine vendors, such as MDLIVE.

What’s covered?

Coverage is based on the terms of the member’s benefit plan and applicable law. As of Jan. 1, 2021, for our state regulated fully insured HMO and PPO members and our self-funded employer group members, we cover telemedicine codes consistent with the permanent code lists from:

By, permanent, we mean those codes that are not temporarily available for the duration of the public health emergency (PHE) declared by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the year of the PHE.

CMS and AMA periodically update their lists. We will follow their updates.

In accordance with state statute, we will also cover the following codes:

  • Audiology
    • 92601
    • 92602
    • 92603
    • 92604
  • Physical therapy
    • 97110
    • 97112
  • Q3014 and additional codes required for Healthy Montana Kids only

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) - IOP services are not a Medicare covered benefit. However, IOP services are important for our members and can effectively be delivered by telemedicine. Therefore, we will cover IOP services delivered by telemedicine.

We will not cover the following codes:

  • Codes that are not on the telemedicine code list provided by CMS or the AMA except for IOP services and those required by state statute
  • CMS codes that are temporary for the PHE
  • CMS Codes that are active for the year of the PHE only
  • AMA codes listed as Private Payer

Our self-funded employer group customers make decisions for their employee benefit plans. Check eligibility and benefits for any variations in member benefit plans.

We recommend the following:

  • Consider telemedicine a mode of care delivery to be used when it can reasonably provide equivalent outcomes as face-to-face visits.

  • Choose telemedicine when it enhances the continuity of care and care integration if you have an established patient-provider relationship with members.

  • Integrate telemedicine records into electronic medical record systems to enhance continuity of care, maintain robust clinical documentation and improve patient outcomes.

Eligible members

Providers can use telemedicine for members with the following types of benefit plans. Care must be consistent with the terms of the member’s benefit plan.

  • State-regulated fully insured HMO and PPO plans
  • Blue Cross Medicare Advantage (excluding Part D) and Medicare Supplement (see Medicare info below)
  • Self-funded employer group plans
  • Healthy Montana Kids

We will continue to follow applicable state and federal requirements.

Submitting claims

The provider submitting the claim is responsible for accurately coding the service performed. Submit claims for medically necessary services delivered via telemedicine with the appropriate modifiers (95, GT, GQ, G0) and Place of Service (POS) 02.

Acceptable modifiers:

  • 95 – synchronous telemedicine (two-way live audio visual)
  • GT – interactive audio and video telecommunication
  • GQ –asynchronous
  • G0 – telemedicine services for diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment of symptoms of an acute stroke; G0 must be billed with one of the approved telemedicine modifier (GT, GQ or 95)

Member cost share

As of Jan. 1, 2021, copays, deductibles and coinsurance apply to telemedicine visits for most members. The cost share varies according to the member’s benefit plans. Check eligibility and benefits for each member for details.

Our self-funded employer group customers make decisions for their employee benefit plans and may choose to waive telemedicine cost share. Check eligibility and benefits for any variations in member benefit plans.

What’s covered for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement members

CMS identifies covered services for Medicare Learn more about third-party links members. This means we will cover all the CMS telemedicine codes Learn more about third-party links, including those available only during the PHE for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement members.

For the duration of the PHE, we are waiving cost share for our Medicare Advantage members. This means these members will not owe any copays, deductibles or coinsurance for telemedicine visits. The cost share waiver does not apply to Medicare Supplement members.

Healthy Montana Kids

We will follow the applicable state and federal guidelines for Healthy Montana Kids members.

Referrals and prior authorizations

Some telemedicine care will require referrals and prior authorizations in accordance with the member’s benefit plan. Check eligibility and benefits for each member for details.

Delivery methods

Available telemedicine visits with providers include:

  • 2-way, live interactive telephone communication (audio only) and digital video consultations

  • Asynchronous telecommunication via image and video not provided in real-time (a service is recorded as video or captured as an image; the provider evaluates it later)

  • Other methods allowed by state and federal laws

Delivery methods for Medicare members

Providers should use an interactive audio and video telecommunications system that permits real-time interactive communication to conduct telemedicine services. CMS permits audio only in limited circumstances. See the CMS website for designated audio-only codes Learn more about third-party links.

Providers can find the latest guidance on acceptable Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant remote technologies issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights in Action Learn more about third-party links.

Telemedicine Vendors

For state-regulated fully insured members, providers are not required to use a vendor for telemedicine services. For self-funded members, providers may be required to use specific vendors as outlined in the member’s benefit plan.

Member benefit and eligibility assistance

Check eligibility and benefits for each member at every visit prior to rendering services. Providers may:

  • Verify general coverage by submitting an electronic 270 transaction through Availity® or your preferred vendor.

  • Connect with a Customer Advocate to check eligibility and telemedicine benefits by calling our Provider Customer Service Center at 1-800-451-0287.

  • For Medicare Advantage members, call Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Network Management at 972-766-7100.

Learn more about third-party links By clicking this link, you will go to a new website/app (“site”). This new site may be offered by a vendor or an independent third party. The site may also contain non-Medicare related information. In addition, some sites may require you to agree to their terms of use and privacy policy.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association