Back to Top Skip to main content

DHA increases access to telehealth during COVID-19 pandemic

Medical personnel sitting at desk talking into laptop monitor U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brendt Feldt, a surgeon at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, conducts a virtual health appointment via synchronous video. Innovations in virtual health, particularly telehealth, have been essential to continuing quality care for beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic. DHA has made temporary changes to TRICARE regulations to expand telehealth care and prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Marcy Sanchez)

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Coronavirus

Innovations to telehealth are essential to patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Military Health System recognizes the importance of telehealth to prevent in-person spread of the novel coronavirus while still providing quality care to beneficiaries. As a result, the Defense Health Agency is making three temporary revisions to TRICARE regulations regarding telehealth with unprecedented speed.

DHA published an interim final rule in the Federal Register May 12, 2020. The rule invoked temporary changes to how beneficiaries and providers receive and provide telehealth care. These changes to the TRICARE telehealth rules were not Congress-directed. DHA acknowledged the need to make temporary changes to telehealth policy and took action to expand access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes to regulation that require publication to the Federal Register usually take six months to a year to implement. However, DHA sought to expedite the process due to the urgency to continue providing care during the pandemic. DHA recognizes that both beneficiaries and providers may have technical and capacity limitations to the expansive telehealth demand created by both social distancing recommendations and restrictions to person-to-person interactions.

“The speed in which the DHA was able to respond to an identified need of expanding telehealth opportunities and get a rule change published is credit to the dedication of our great staff working tirelessly for our beneficiaries,” said Christopher Priest, deputy assistant director, Health Care Operations, DHA. “These are challenging times, but every day I see colleagues striving to improve how we deliver the TRICARE benefit under unprecedented conditions.”

The agency hopes to implement changes to beneficiaries worldwide in 30-90 days. Once implemented, changes made through the interim final rule will stand as long as the country remains in a state of national emergency, as declared by the president March 13, 2020.

The first change gives beneficiaries access to audio-only telephone visits with their providers. TRICARE will permit audio-only health care visits to improve access to care for beneficiaries that cannot access audio-visual care. Beneficiaries that cannot access audio-visual care due to lack of in-home technology, such as smartphones or computers, or who live in remote areas without the bandwidth for video conferencing, can take advantage of this service.

DHA is also increasing the provider access to care with the second regulatory change: TRICARE will reimburse providers that practice interstate telehealth where permitted by federal or state law, even if the provider is not licensed in the state where they are remoting in. Usually, providers that offer telehealth must be licensed in both the state where they practice and the state where their beneficiaries reside. This requirement will be temporarily modified to allow providers to expand their telehealth reach and still qualify for reimbursement. The rule also applies to providers overseas as long as a provider holds an equivalent license in another nation, and the host nation permits such practice.

The third change temporarily waives cost-shares and copayments for covered, in-network telehealth services. This change doesn’t cover just services related to COVID-19, but all telehealth services inside of the network. DHA hopes that by removing these costs, beneficiaries take advantage of telehealth and reduce exposure of others to TRICARE beneficiaries who may have the novel coronavirus.

Although the new rules are effective May 12, it will take time for all of the changes to be fully implemented. Beneficiaries may still be assessed a copay for telehealth services over the next few months, but adjudicated claims will either be pended or copays may be reimbursed. Some changes may remain in effect beyond the national emergency for overseas locations. DHA will reevaluate telehealth changes in the long term once the threat of COVID-19 diminishes.

DHA remains dedicated to transparency, while working to swiftly to reduce inconvenience for their beneficiaries and providers. Future updates will be posted to Health.mil and TRICARE.mil as they are finalized.

You also may be interested in...

COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

Publication
1/5/2021

This toolkit provides communicators across the Military Health System (MHS) with important information about the COVID-19 prevention and vaccination from the CDC to share with patients and health care professionals.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Toolkit | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit

COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit

Publication
1/5/2021

These messages are provided for you to use on your platforms with any of the images from the COVID-19 Toolkit.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

DoD COVID 19 Vaccine Distribution Plan and Population Schema

Publication
12/10/2020

Regarding the initial COVID-19 vaccination rollout, Defense Department officials announced a phased and coordinated strategic plan for distributing and administering the initial COVID-19 vaccines.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Holiday Season Guidance to Minimize Spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019

Publication
11/16/2020

This memorandum provides guidance to help protect individuals within the DoD community from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for gatherings and activities during the November to January holiday season.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Updated Guidance for Performing Temperature Checks at Military MTFs and DTFs

Publication
10/21/2020

This guidance is an update to Defense Health Agency Return to Full Operations Concept of Operations, V5.0 (June 12, 2020) as it pertains to temperature checks in MTFs and DTFs. Based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), previous guidance directed MTFs to take the temperature of all individuals entering the facility. Effective immediately, temperature checks are not required; however, screening of individuals entering MTFs and DTFs and healthcare personnel on duty in the MTF or DTF is to continue.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 12) -Department of Defense Guidance for Personnel Traveling During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Publication
8/6/2020

This memorandum supplements requirements in references (a), (b), and (c) with respect to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and replaces reference (d). It provides pre- and post­travel guidance for purposes of force health protection (FHP) of Service members, DoD family members, DoD civilian employees, and DoD contractor personnel.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Supplemental Guidance 10 for Military Medical Treatment Facilities and Military Dental Treatment Facilities Directors in regards to Coronavirus Disease 2019

Publication
7/1/2020

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Pharmacy Operations Division (POD) Reverse HPCON Status Guidance

Publication
6/24/2020

Guidance for Outpatient MTF Pharmacies in Response to COVID-19

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID Pharmacy Guidance

Download Letter to Beneficiaries

Publication
6/24/2020

This message replaces guidance issued on March 31. It explains actions military pharmacies are taking to keep services and visits safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it outlines your pharmacy options as a TRICARE beneficiary.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID Pharmacy Guidance | TRICARE Health Program

Communication to ABA Providers Regarding Continued Temporary Authorization to Utilize Telehealth for CPT Code 97156 During the COVID-19 National Emergency

Publication
6/3/2020

TRICARE is announcing the continuation of the temporary exception to policy regarding the use of synchronous telehealth (TH) capabilities (both audio and video) for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Family Adaptive Behavior Treatment Guidance services specifically during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Autism Care Demonstration | Coronavirus | TRICARE Health Program

Force Health Protection Guidance (Supplement 9) -Department of Defense Guidance for Deployment and Redeployment of Individuals and Units during the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Publication
5/26/2020

This memorandum provides force health protection (FHP) deployment and redeployment guidance for Service members (including Reserve Component (RC) and National Guard members in a title 10 or title 32 duty status) and DoD civilian employees deploying within and outside the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with references (a) and (b).

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Guidance for Commanders on Risk-Based Changing of Health Protection Condition Levels During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

Publication
5/20/2020

This memorandum provides guidance for commanders to consider when making decisions to change health protection condition (HPCON) levels as COVID-19 pandemic conditions on and adjacent to our installations begin to improve.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Resuming Elective Surgical, Invasive, and Dental Procedures in Military Medical and Dental Treatment Facilities

Publication
5/19/2020

This memorandum provides guidance on how each Military Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) and Dental Treatment Facility (DTF) may resume elective medical and dental procedures.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus

Modification and Reissuance of DoD Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 -Travel Restrictions

Publication
4/20/2020

All DoD Service members will stop movement, both internationally and domestically, while this memorandum is in effect. All DoD civilian personnel, and dependents of DoD Service members and DoD civilian personnel, whose travel is Government-funded will stop movement, both internationally and domestically, while this memorandum is in effect.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Implementation Guidance for Presidential Memorandum, "Providing Federal Support for Governor's Use of the National Guard to Respond to COVID-19 ," Dated April 7, 2020

Publication
4/14/2020

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 5

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.