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WellPoint expands telemedicine opportunities for doctors

WellPoint is offering some physicians the chance to be paid, without having to submit claims, for evaluations when on call. Software provided by the health plan would allow them to see patients on online video. The program, made available through a website called LiveHealth Online, is an extension of a previously announced plan that would allow WellPoint members to have online video consultations with any physician in their state who is contracted by the health insurer. The company said the program would be launched in California and Ohio over the first half of 2013 and would be expanded to other states later. Physicians would be hooked up to the system for free, and would be paid an unspecified fee for each visit. But they would be required to pay an undisclosed licensing fee to do online video consults with established patients. WellPoint would pay doctors for each consult, with the claim automatically generated through LiveHealth Online. The patient fee would be based on an ...

ACA multistate plans must not fly under regulatory radar, AMA says

To protect physicians and patients, multi-state plans offered on upcoming health insurance exchanges should be held to the same regulatory standards as other private insurance offerings, the American Medical Association wrote in a Jan. 4 comment letter to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The Multi-State Plan program was established by the Affordable Care Act to promote competition and encourage the availability of high-quality, affordable products in the insurance exchange marketplaces. At least two multi-state plans, one of which should be from a nonprofit insurer, must be offered on the exchanges starting in 2014. Such plans would be able to offer insurance to small businesses that operate in — or families that reside in — more than one state. In November 2012, the Office of Personnel Management issued a proposed rule establishing standards for these multi-state plans and sought public comment from stakeholders. In the AMA’s letter, Executive Vice President and ...

IOM stresses: Vaccine schedule for children is safe

A new Institute of Medicine report confirms what many primary care physicians have been telling parents for years — it’s safe to follow the recommended childhood immunization schedule. Under the schedule, children receive as many as 24 vaccines by their second birthday and get up to five injections during a single doctor’s visit, the IOM said. The immunizations are timed to protect children from 14 pathogens by inoculating them at a point in their lives when they are most vulnerable to disease, according to the IOM. But some parents worry that administering the immunizations in such a short period could cause negative health effects in their children. The IOM report, issued Jan. 16, said there is no evidence that the schedule, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is unsafe. “The evidence repeatedly points to the health benefits of the recommended schedule, including protecting children and communities from serious and life-threatening disea ...