On June 22, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed a telemedicine commercial reimbursement statute into law, making Connecticut the 28th state to do so. The vote provides a stark contrast to the Texas Medical Board’s new rules released back in April that make it harder for doctors to prescribe drugs remotely and for patients to receive them in Texas.
The Connecticut law requires commercial insurers to cover telemedicine and telehealth services the same for in-person visits. The statute also requires that telehealth coverage must be subject to the same terms and conditions that apply to all other benefits under the patient’s insurance policy. These provisions will take effect January 1, 2016.
According to a blog by healthcare attorney Nathaniel Lacktman at Foley & Lardner LLP, Connecticut’s definition of telehealth is broad. This is important because it means that it does not limit covered telehealth services solely to services performed by a telehealth provider located in a different place than the patient. Remote patient monitoring is also included, meaning remote services are not restricted to telehealth providers.
“This requirement will help ensure Connecticut health plan members enjoy benefits of telehealth services such as remote patient monitoring and connected care technologies,” Lacktman wrote.
The law that Connecticut recently enacted is unique in that the language in the statute makes it clear that insurers are required to cover telehealth services the same as in-person services, while other states’ statutes do not. “This is because some services, such as remote monitoring, do not naturally lend themselves to in-person encounters and are designed to be utilized via telehealth,” according to the blog.
Now that Connecticut has enacted this statute, more than 28 states—plus the District of Columbia—in the U.S. have telemedicine commercial insurance laws, and many other states are currently discussing and developing legislation.