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Starting Oct. 1, several private health insurers will no longer fully pay for virtual visits under certain circumstances — effectively reinstituting costs for patients reliant on the virtual care that has been heralded as a lifeline at a time when Covid-19 is still killing more than 700 Americans each day.

The insurance giant UnitedHealthcare is ending a “virtual visit” benefit that had been expanded to many members during the Covid-19 pandemic, through which it was covering the full cost of visits — without any cost to patients — for individuals who were seeing in-network providers virtually for medical issues not related to Covid-19. (Asked by STAT for details, a UHC spokesperson pointed to a page on the company’s website.)


And Anthem, the company behind a number of affiliated health plans across the country, will stop waiving the cost of copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for virtual visits not related to Covid-19. Beginning Oct. 1, a commercially insured “member’s cost shares will be applied based on the terms of the plan they purchased,” the spokesperson said, adding that Anthem-affiliated health plans “have a long history of covering telehealth visits.” The spokesperson did not return STAT’s request for details about the coverage changes for different Anthem-affiliated health plans.

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