Forty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted a commercial payer law for state telehealth despite payment process policies delays.
Foley & Lardner LLP released a report noting that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, state and federal officials were required to eliminate restrictions on virtual care and telehealth reimbursements and expand the program at higher rates than ever before. They monitor legal policies in the digital health and telemedicine industries, stating that these states and DC started a new commercial state payer law designed for telehealth. Many experts forecast that these revolutionary changes will create even more expansion in the market.
Health care plans are beginning to offer many more health coverage options when it comes to digital health and telemedicine services. Virtual care is becoming more commonplace and is more widely accepted. These services are vital and are likely to stay in place after the pandemic ends. As telehealth popularity grows, so does medical transcription as the future of medical care and the technology that supports it. Although COVID-19 did not create telehealth’s virtual care industry, it did accelerate the growth and popularity of services.
Not all telehealth laws are equally effective at ensuring access to virtual care. Although, telehealth has gained significant popularity over the past few years, there remains little consensus on what specifically contributes to its effectiveness.
Some states have coverage laws for telehealth services and do not mandate insurance plans to cover digital health services. Approximately fourteen states require telehealth payment parity, where certain providers not based in these states may receive lower payment reimbursements for virtual care services. There are approximately 30 states that provide payment protections from health insurance plans charging more for a virtual care consultation than for one in an actual doctor’s on-site location.
Telehealth services and health care coverage are becoming much more popular with providers and patients wanting to have more of these services in place. Particularly due to COVID-19, more people in need of medical care are avoiding onsite health care locations such as doctors’ offices, urgent care clinics, and emergency rooms.
Before the pandemic hit, there were payment reimbursement models that made it more difficult to get smaller doctors’ offices to provide services for virtual care patients. Disadvantages for smaller healthcare providers were due to federal and state policies in place at the time.
Because of demand, more states are creating more bills to support and expand access to digital health services. There are also advantages with medical transcription services that can help ensure patient privacy and offer a measure of protection with medical records from telehealth visits.
Virtual care can give more people access to health care services, especially more vulnerable populations in the country like underserved and rural communities. Teleservices have become even more crucial because of the pandemic and the need to avoid crowds and practice social distancing to avoid getting infected with the virus.