- Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) in-person visits for primary care fell precipitously in mid-March at the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), and began to rise again in mid-April through May.
- Nearly half (43.5%) of Medicare primary care visits were provided via telehealth in April, compared with less than one percent before the PHE in February (0.1%).
- As in-person visits started to resume from mid-April thru May, the use of telehealth in primary care declined somewhat but appears to have leveled off at a persistent and significant level by the beginning of June.
- Beneficiaries dually enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, and high-cost Medicare beneficiaries had similar patterns in the use of primary care in-person and telehealth visits as other Medicare beneficiaries.
- Providers in rural counties had smaller increases in Medicare primary care telehealth visits compared with providers in urban areas who had much greater use of telehealth visits early in the PHE.
- Among major urban areas, the proportion of total primary care visits delivered by telehealth in April ranged from one third in Phoenix to nearly two-thirds in Boston. Cities with more COVID-19 hospitalizations like New York City, Detroit and Boston had higher uptake of telehealth in primary care visits along with San Francisco, which largely avoided the early COVID-19 surge. This suggests telehealth is partly driven by concerns with COVID-19, but also patient and provider readiness for telehealth.