State, insurance companies reach telehealth deal through 2020

Salem – The State of Oregon has reached an agreement with several health insurance companies to continue providing expanded telehealth options through at least the end of the year.

“Throughout this pandemic, telehealth has provided Oregonians with essential access to health care services that otherwise might have been unavailable or required the risk of an in-person appointment,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “It has transformed how many people have accessed behavioral health services. I’d like to thank Oregon’s insurers for partnering with us in this agreement, which gives us the opportunity and the time to develop more permanent telehealth policies with appropriate flexibilities during the 2021 session.”

The agreement follows guidance issued by the Department of Consumer and Business Services and the Oregon Health Authority in late March requiring health insurance plans of all types to provide coverage for multiple telehealth platforms at the same rate as an in-person visit to limit in-person health care services.

This means health insurance companies will continue to provide coverage for expanded telehealth services for Oregonians and pay for these services at the rates they established during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our health insurance companies continue to step up. This agreement is an important one for our state,” said Andrew Stolfi, insurance commissioner and acting director of DCBS. “It means Oregonians can get the critical health care services they need, and providers will continue to get paid for providing this important care, while we all work together to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.”

The following insurance companies have agreed to provide expanded telehealth services through the end of the year:

Bridgespan PacificSource
Cigna Providence
Health Net Regence
Kaiser Permanente Samaritan
Moda United Healthcare

In addition to these companies, the Oregon Health Plan will continue to offer pay parity and other allowances for many telehealth services, offering the same rate as an in-person visit for physical health services, behavioral health services, and some dental and long-term care services.

It is important to note that this agreement does not apply to self-insured plans. The state encourages self-insured plans to cover expanded telehealth services for members. These are plans in which an employer assumes the financial risk of providing health care benefits to its employees. Oregonians who have a self-insured plan should check with their employer about their coverage options.

Oregonians are encouraged to contact their insurance company or health care provider if they have questions about using telehealth services.

Visit the Division of Financial Regulation’s COVID-19 telehealth page for frequently asked questions and additional information. For more information on insurance and financial topics, visit the COVID-19 consumer site.

For up-to-date information and resources on COVID-19, visit the Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 site.

If you have questions about an insurance company or agent or need to file a complaint, call the Division of Financial Regulation’s advocacy team at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or email dfr.insurancehelp@oregon.gov.

Rabid Bat Bites Visitor in Breitenbush Area

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Public health officials are warning residents to be careful after a person was bitten by a rabid bat in the Breitenbush area.

The Statesman Journal reports health officials said the person was bitten on Saturday, but declined to say exactly where the incident happened, or whether the out-of-state visitor was an adult or child.

The victim captured the bat and brought it to the Marion County Health Department, according to program supervisor Alisa Zastoupil.

The bat was sent to Oregon State University for testing, which confirmed it was infected with rabies.

Breitenbush, an unincorporated community about 10 miles east of Detroit, includes the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center, and a group of privately owned vacation homes.

This year, three other bats have tested positive for rabies in Oregon — in Linn, Jackson and Washington counties.

Taste This! – Plantd Cafe + Marketplace

This week, Donna Britt discovers how two women are sharing their passion for holistic nutrition, making fresh nourishing food, convenient and budget friendly through their company, Plantd Cafe + Marketplace.

Thanks to Newport Avenue Market for giving us the resources to take weekly culinary adventures. Life is short. Eat good food!

OSU-Cascades Researcher’s Study on Tanning Makes National Headlines

A new study from OSU-Cascades has found many millennials lack the knowledge about the importance of sunscreen and continue to tan both indoors and outdoors.

Central Oregon Daily’s Lisa Carton sat down with the lead researcher in this study, which has garnered national attention, and the results were surprising.

The study looked at 250 college students, most between 18 and 23 years old. The findings showed that continued sun exposure was in part due to low self-esteem and high rates of narcissism, which fuels the addictive tanning behavior.

Flu Cases on the Decline Locally

This years flu season has turned into an epidemic, killing at lest 30 children since October and closed schools across the county. While nationally the flu season shows no signs of slowing down, in Deschutes County reported flu cases are on the decline.

This year’s flu struck hard in 32 states, including Oregon, which reported record high numbers of emergency room visits due to the flu.

Part of that may have to do with this year’s predominant flu strain, H3N2, which tends to come with more severe symptoms.

In Deschutes County alone 102 residents went to the emergency room with the flu in the first week of January, but as the month goes on that number has dropped significantly. In the second week of January 86 people went to the emergency room with the flu and only 58 cases were reported between January 14th and 20th.

Children under 5 are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to the virus since their immune systems are still developing.  Elderly populations are also particularly vulnerable but officials are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

Even though the vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t catch the flu, it could lessen your symptoms and help you avoid complications like catching a secondary illness like pneumonia which commonly leads to hospitalization.

 

Helping Those With Eating Disorders

Natalie Murphy registered dietician nutritionist with Central Oregon Dietician Consultants joins Donna Britt of Central Oregon Daily at 3pm to discuss the signs of eating disorders and how to help those with the disease. From taking the steps to have a medical evaluation, talk to a therapist or dietician, and visiting the National Eating Disorder Association’s website, there are options for help.