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Encouraging Flu Vaccines & Telehealth Services for Medicare & Medicaid Members During COVID-19

Posted, by Hannah Noel on 09/21/2020
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We’re on the precipice of what is being called a “twindemic,” the possibility that we’ll be managing both the spread of influenza and a new wave of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Such a scenario has the potential to put patients at higher risk for infection, as well as put hospitals at risk for becoming overwhelmed.

During this flu season, gift card wellness incentives can be essential and convenient tools to encourage Medicare and Medicaid members to be proactive about their health and getting flu vaccinations in order to reduce the likelihood of the twindemic.

Promoting Telehealth Services During This Flu Season 

Encouraging Medicare and Medicaid members to utilize telehealth services, as well as getting the flu vaccine, will be paramount to reducing risk of infection and maintaining health through the 2020-2021 flu season.

This season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is strongly recommending that members use telehealth services for safety. Telehealth services provide wider access to necessary care while minimizing the transmission risk of influenza and SARS-CoV-2 to healthcare personnel and patients.

Related: How Incentives Promote Healthy Behaviors in Value-Based Care 

Especially for at-risk populations, understanding how to use or having access to the technology involved could be an issue. Foreseeing this challenge, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has expanded what’s covered in telehealth services. 

CMS has increased coverage for audio-only telephone visits between Medicare members and their physicians to match payments for similar office and outpatient visits (e.g. Codes CPT 99421, CPT 99446, and HPCS G2012). Payments for these services have increased from a range of about $14-$41 to about $46-$110, and the payments are retroactive to March 1, 2020. This enables care for patients, especially elderly patients with chronic conditions, or those living in rural or impoverished areas, who may not have access to audio-visual technology or high-speed Internet for video consultations.

Additionally, CMS recently reported their influenza vaccine payment allowances for the 2020-2021 flu season and the associated codes. Effective August 1, there are new payment allowances for flu shots, ranging from $10-60.

Members may not automatically choose to get vaccinated or seek out telehealth services over walk-in clinics and primary care facilities unless encouraged, so it is crucial that part of your strategy uses incentives to motivate and reward members for taking advantage of these available services and being proactive about their health.

Gift Card Incentives To Promote Medicare & Medicaid Member Health

Motivate Medicare and Medicaid members to be proactive about their health this flu season with gift card wellness incentives. Both telehealth services and the flu vaccine are readily available for members, and gift cards to health and wellness brands can be that extra push members need to adopt healthy behaviors. Incentive programs that offer timely rewards for healthy behaviors, such as sending a gift card for scheduling and attending a telehealth visit or getting a flu vaccination, are most likely to be effective in adopting healthy habits.

eGift cards have become an essential option during the COVID-19 pandemic, since they are a contactless solution that can be sent directly to any device via email or text. Using eGift cards for the upcoming flu season will make it easy for members to redeem and incentivize no matter where they are, use it immediately, and reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus or influenza.

The best eGift card brands to consider are ones that support health and wellness, like CVS Pharmacy®, which offers a unique gift card that can selectively filter debits on approved “healthy” purchases (including: the flu shot, cold & flu medicine, pain relievers, co-pays, prescriptions, etc.), and has over 9,800 locations coast to coast with a wide range of items that are eligible for free delivery.

The key difference to this year’s flu season is the additional ongoing concern surrounding COVID-19. Getting Medicare and Medicaid members to participate in available public health services, such as telehealth and flu vaccinations, will be crucial to reducing the spread of infection, healthcare costs, and the prevention of hospitals becoming overwhelmed. Take advantage of CVS Pharmacy® gift cards to incentivize members while also promoting their health.

Copy of CVS Wellness Rewards


Topics: Health & Wellness, healthcare rewards, flu season, Wellness Incentives, COVID-19