House Bill 706 has been introduced in the Pennsylvania House. This is a “parity” bill which does the following:
It defines telehealth in such as way as to neither mandate nor prohibit asynchronous or synchronous telehealth technology. It simply defines telehealth as the remote interaction of the healthcare provider with a patient through the use of any of the following:
- A video camera transmission,
- A computer video transmission,
- An electronic health monitoring device, or
- Another telecommunications device that delivers health information concerning the patient to a healthcare professional.
This is a parity law because it requires insurers that provide health insurance policies in the commonwealth to “provide coverage for telehealth under the following conditions”:
- The use of telehealth is appropriate for the patient;
- The healthcare professional is able to maintain proper direct examination of the patient or direct examination of the patient is not necessary;
- The use of telehealth is expected to result in lower healthcare cost than if it were not used.
That last condition is a little unusual. On one hand, one would expect the telehealth coverage would expand utilization, because access will be easier. On the other hand, one of the presumed benefits of expanded access is early detection and prevention. I wonder what machinations a carrier might consider to avoid providing telehealth coverage on the basis that it is not expected to result in lower healthcare costs?