Taking a bite out of health care costs: Anthem introduces virtual dental care in response to pandemic

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Virtual dental exams – also known as Teledentistry – are now part of the online equation.

More than two months into the COVID-19 pandemic, many Granite Staters have adapted to protect their personal health as well as those around them.  From sitting in virtual classrooms, to online ordering of food to ensure contactless delivery to Zoom meetings (don’t forget to mute your computer, folks), we are all working to embrace the new normal. 

Thanks to a new initiative recently announced by Anthem Blue and Cross and Blue Shield, virtual dental exams – also known as Teledentistry – are now part of the online equation.  The state’s largest health plan has partnered with the Missouri-based company, the TeleDentists, to offer the new program to its 25,000 NH subscribers

“Teledentistry matters now more than ever, so this is a great time for Anthem to expand its virtual oral care offering,” said Scott Towers, President, Dental and Vision Business at Anthem. “Millions of Americans have been asked to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19, but many still need access to dental care from dentists. Helping consumers get that care is our No. 1 priority, and through this partnership with The TeleDentists, we’re proud to offer a teledentistry option that is convenient, safe and affordable.”

Towers said that the program, which is online and mobile-enabled, is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and requires no travel or appointments.  “It does not replace one’s current dentist,” he explained.  “Rather it can be used off-hours or if you have an urgent need.”   

Access to the service is available 24/7, 365 days a year in the event of an emergency.  Virtual exams are covered at 100 percent with no deductibles, copays, paperwork or claims to file through June 30, 2020.

Members wishing to use the service can access it through Anthem’s provider finder, then linking to The TeleDentists website.  Once there, they will be asked to answer a few health history questions.  There is even a virtual room where one waits before seen.  Anthem says that in as little as 10 minutes, consumers would “meet” with board-licensed dentists who will assess their needs and recommend care options, such as prescribing medication to local pharmacies or referring them to local dentists.  Towers noted with costs at emergency departments or urgent care centers for a consult running  between $400 and $1,000, Anthem wanted to provide its members with a cost-saving option.

Towers explained that Anthem had been active in the telehealth space for several years and that this addition of dental services was a “natural evolution” of that work. Early feedback from dentists and patients has been favorable, he added. 

It says here this effort has real value, not just during a pandemic but also for those living in remote parts of our state or someone without access to reliable transportation.  And if my time in a waiting room for an unplanned appointment, virtual or otherwise, can be 10 minutes or less, sign me up!  Technology has already enhanced so many ways in which we communicate, why not health care? 

I would like to delve into this issue further.  Do you have a telehealth experience or observance to share?  If so, please email me at  Chrisdugan@manchesterinklink.com.  


Informational resources – www.anthem.com or https://www.theteledentists.com/