Sunday, May 2, 2010

Virginia Now One of Dozen States Mandating Pay for Telemedicine

People should pay for their own visits, and forget about insurance coverage at the low cost of telemedicine. If it costs $10 to reach the doctor, and $10 to return home, $100 to take off a half day from work, the average person should arrange for it at their own expense. A $60 brief visit would still be half as expensive. There is also some chance the impaired person may get into a car crash. What would people pay to prevent one of those? What else can the states do, of greater importance to doctors is to rein in the states goofy, mad dog licensing boards. Any charge involving telemedicine should be immunized.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has signed into law a bill that requires insurers to cover services provided through telemedicine.

With enactment of the legislation on April 5, Virginia becomes the 12th state to mandate that health plans cover telemedicine. Under the new statute, telemedicine services include the use of interactive audio, video or other electronic media used for the purpose of diagnosis, consultation or treatment.

It does not include services provided using an audio-only telephone, e-mail message or fax transmission. Continuing medical education and call center services are not required to be covered, either.

The enactment of the bill was supported by several physician organizations, including the Medical Society of Virginia, the American Heart Assn., the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Virginia Telehealth Network.

"With telemedicine, physicians in all areas of the state who have the technology will be able to consult with specialists, regardless of location or other circumstances, such as foul weather," said MSV President Daniel Carey, MD. "It is extremely beneficial in areas of the state which are underserved by certain specialties, such as ob-gyn, and also when transporting the patient is not an option."

The American Medical Association supports payment to physicians for any telemedicine services they provide.

The 12 states as of today.

* California: 1996
* Colorado: 2001
* Georgia: 2006
* Hawaii: 1999
* Kentucky: 2000
* Louisiana: 1995
* Maine: 2009
* New Hampshire: 2009
* Oklahoma: 1997
* Oregon: 2009
* Texas: 1997
* Virginia: 2010

Source: The American Telemedicine Assn.

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