Much of the discussion surrounding telemedicine relates to factors that slow the implementation of its use. One factor contributing to this is the lack of consistent and comprehensive reimbursement. There is no systematic private payment across the country. Many private payors refuse to cover telemedicine services. Others do so on a limited basis. The inconsistency makes the burden and costs high for providers who use telemedicine.
Some states have responded to this inconsistency by enacting laws. As of the current date, 16 states have enacted some type of law mandating payment for health care services that are provided through use of telemedicine technologies. Three states, Michigan, Maryland, and Vermont, added new laws to their books during 2012 that mandate some level of telemedicine reimbursement.
The American Telemedicine Association has reported that 8 additional states have introduced telemedicine reimbursement laws already in 2013. Those states include Florida, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Mississippi, Nebraska, Indiana, South Carolina, and New Mexico. Some of the listed states have introduced general requirements that telehealth be reimbursed without discrimination. Others have addressed more limited coverage scope such as Indiana, which is considering coverage to home health agencies, federally qualified health centers and rural clinics.
It is uncertain what the final outcome of the recently introduced legislation will be. It is also probable that more states will consider various forms of private payment requirements for telemedicine services. We are likely to see more states address this issue over upcoming years as telemedicine gains more traction.