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Veterans and members of the military have always had access to telemedicine, but their use of virtual visits has exploded since the pandemic began. Here are the services covered by the Veterans Health Administration and Tricare health plans:
Mental health and loaner tablets: A look at what the VA covers
The VA has offered telemedicine services through its Video Connect platform since 2017. Since the pandemic began, there's been a more than 1,000 percent growth in telemedicine encounters, says Kevin Galpin, M.D., executive director of VA Telehealth Services. Currently, veterans engage in about 32,000 video visits per day.
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Patients receive several different types of care via telemedicine — mental health, physical therapy, audiology, routine physicals and medication management for diabetes and high blood pressure. There have been 1.5 million mental health visits this year — a more than 80 percent increase over last year. The most common diagnosis is post-traumatic stress disorder; other reasons for mental health visits include depression and anxiety. The VA also offers remote patient monitoring services via telemedicine, which has been especially helpful for patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
VA providers can offer any type of health care via telemedicine “as long as the doctor feels it's clinically appropriate,” says Galpin. There's no copay for those who are enrolled in VA services, but patients may still need to meet a deductible.