Majority of States Now Have Pay Parity Laws for Telemedicine

Ken Terry

May 28, 2015

Indiana, Minnesota, and Nevada have enacted telemedicine parity laws, which require private insurers to cover remote consultations the same way they cover in-person visits to healthcare providers. With the passage of these measures, 27 states and the District of Columbia now have laws enforcing coverage for telemedicine-provided services, according to the American Telemedicine Association (ATA).

Many of these states also mandate telemedicine coverage by their Medicaid programs and, in some cases, by their state employee health plans.

In addition, the ATA noted, telemedicine parity bills are being considered in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

The new state laws differ from each other in some respects. For example, the Indiana legislation goes into effect July 1, 2015, whereas Minnesota's parity law affects health plans that provide coverage starting on or after January 1, 2017. Minnesota also amends an existing statute permitting Medicaid coverage of telemedicine. Nevada's measure requires telehealth coverage not only for private insurance but also for Medicaid and workers' compensation; Nevada is the only state that does this for workers' comp.

A recent ATA report found that state telemedicine laws vary widely. Of the 24 states that had parity legislation at the time, only 16 states and Washington, DC, authorized statewide coverage, without any provider or technology restrictions. Of the 48 states that mandated Medicaid coverage of telemedicine, just half did not specify a type of patient setting as a condition for payment. Twenty-five states recognized the home as an originating site for virtual visits.

Meanwhile, Medicare continues to lag behind the states in its coverage of telemedicine, focusing mainly on the use of the technology in rural areas. A new Congressional bill introduced by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL.) on May 22 would expand access to stroke telehealth services under the Medicare program, according to the ATA.

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