As technology plays a growing role in healthcare, access to the Internet can be essential. Help is now available from an unexpected source.
Healthcare professionals talk about the “social determinants” of health. Typically, these include a safe place to live with heat and light, or a supply of healthy food, or access to medical care. But now we can add another factor: Internet access. The rapid growth of telehealth services and remote patient monitoring means that connection to broadband data services can be an essential part of keeping people healthy. Many people – including the elderly – may have difficulty paying for Internet connections. New rules make it possible for Medicare Advantage programs to help. They can provide eligible subscribers with prepaid debit cards that can be used to pay for electricity, water, and other utilities. This program is now expanded to include payments for Internet service. This option can help bring healthcare services to previously underserved populations.