New Data: Telehealth Parity Mandates Reduce Patient Uptake
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about an explosive increase in the use of telehealth. In recent policy debates, controversy has emerged over telehealth mandates: Should states mandate that the payment rate for telehealth visits and in-person appointments have to be the same? Should they also mandate that insurers have to cover all forms of telehealth? In examining utilization data, we found that a region with several parity mandates had utilization increases far less than in a region that does not have widespread parity. In other words, parity mandates appear to harm patient access and depress utilization.
If there was a silver lining to COVID-19, it’s that telehealth barriers are finally being broken down. Not only did countless states waive unnecessary telehealth regulations when the pandemic first hit, but many policymakers are seeking to make these changes permanent and even build upon them. For example, Massachusetts expanded telehealth coverage to allow all providers to use it, while West Virginia allowed providers to offer telehealth services across state lines.
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