State Laws That Require Insurers to Cover Telemedicine
Right now, twenty-six states have laws that require private insurers to reimburse healthcare providers for services delivered through telemedicine. These are often referred to as “Parity” laws. In addition, ten more states are also considering legislation to do the same. Each law is different, but they generally say that private payers can’t take the patient’s location into account when deciding to cover a video visit, making it possible for covered patients to be at home or work during the encounter. This guide by the American Telemedicine Association is a great way to learn more about the laws of your state.
Many states with parity laws have made exceptions for certain types of insurance plans. Worker’s compensation plans and small group plans may be eligible to opt out of coverage for telemedicine.
Medicare Telehealth Reimbursement
Medicare has a telemedicine coverage approach that is intentionally limited in scope. Its goal is to make sure that patients in remote and rural areas have access to a specialist that may not be available near by. Therefore, patients must live in what is known as a Health Professional Shortage Area that is outside a metropolitan area.
In addition, Medicare also requires that patients go to a designated healthcare facility in order to initiate a video visit. From there, the patient and their local provider can connect to a distant specialist using telehealth technology. Video visits from home, or anywhere that is not what’s called a designated “Originating site,” are not covered under Medicare.
Every state Medicaid program offers some type of coverage for telemedicine, but they are all different. Some are like Medicare and require patients to be at a healthcare facility during the visit, while others allow for visits from home or work. The Center for Concerned Health Policy has a comprehensive scan of the 50 states and District of Columbia that will help you learn more about how Medicaid approaches telehealth in your state.
It is unfortunate that telemedicine coverage is so complex right now. But as more and more insurance companies and state legislatures see the benefits of telemedicine on their communities, laws and policies will change quickly to embrace telehealth.
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