HHS Study Underscores Urgency for Comprehensive Reform to Safeguard Access to Virtual Care

Dec 3, 2021
New Report Finds 63x Increase in Telehealth Visits Among Seniors During the Pandemic

Washington, D.C – Telehealth Access for America issued the following statement on the release of a new study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Friday that found the number of Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries utilizing telehealth increased by a factor of 63 from 2019 to 2020.

“Critical actions taken by Congress and federal health agencies in response to the pandemic combined with significant health system investments in technology allowed millions of Americans — especially seniors, persons with disabilities, and caregivers — to access high-quality virtual care for the first time,” said TAFA spokesperson Julia Mirich. “This study confirms telehealth has become a vital resource for many Americans, especially seniors, who could abruptly lose access to care they value without action from Congress.”

“Expanded telehealth access and usage supports better health outcomes, increases patient choice, and improves health care system efficiency,” Mirich continued. “Congress must meet the moment and advance permanent comprehensive reform to safeguard coverage for virtual care for every person in America.”

The HHS study found the pandemic accelerated telehealth growth, resulting in a 63-fold increase in telehealth visits among Medicare beneficiaries in 2020. According to the report, the majority of these beneficiaries – 92 percent – received telehealth care from their homes, which was not covered under Medicare before flexibilities that were extended in response to COVID-19.

The HHS study also found that before the pandemic, telehealth comprised less than one percent of health care visits. This increased significantly in 2020, with eight percent of primary care visits conducted via telehealth. Additionally, telehealth comprised one-third of all behavioral health specialist visits in 2020.

The full HHS study can be viewed HERE.


Telehealth Access for America (TAFA) is a public education campaign supported by leaders in health care committed to better care, expanded patient choice, and protecting access to critical telehealth services.