Charges for Emails with Doctors and other Healthcare Providers

Patient-provider email messaging accelerated early in the COVID-19 pandemic as more patients sought medical care remotely, and the addition of billing codes for digital health services and subsequent changes in insurers’ payment policies have enabled providers to bill insurers and patients for messaging. This analysis examines the typical cost of patient-provider email messaging in 2020 and 2021 using private health insurance claims data.

The typical cost for an email messaging claim was $39 in 2021, including both the portion paid by insurance and that paid by patients. Although the health plan covered the full cost for most of these claims (82%), those patients with at least some out-of-pocket costs typically paid $25.

The analysis is available through the KFF-Peterson Health System Tracker, an online information hub that monitors and assesses the performance of the U.S. health system.

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