Is Payment Parity In Telehealth’s Future?

Telehealth was a boon to socially distant care in 2020, and there’s no indication this service is going away. Some even predict a seven-fold increase in just four years. But with an end to the pandemic in sight, the issues telehealth will face going forward will likely begin with payment parity, says mHealth Intelligence. Here are some of the main questions to consider.

Will payers reimburse for telehealth services once the pandemic is in our rearview mirror?

Odds are, yes. Public demand will keep this option on the table—not simply because of its popularity during COVID, but because of the convenience of remote-based care. Telehealth has even gained support in treating substance abuse, and has helped alleviate increased reports of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Will the fees for telehealth visits actually be the same as in-person?

While it’s possible that payment parity can be established across the industry, it’s far from guaranteed. That said, payers would do well to keep those fees comparable: too much of a gap in price could discourage providers from offering virtual treatment, and cost them patients.

Who will determine payment parity?

Payers will develop their price models based on federal and state actions first. Fourteen states already mandate “true payment parity,” according to mHealth, while 22 currently “have laws that specifically address telehealth reimbursement.” Some have also approved emergency measures that require parity during the pandemic. Still, there are telehealth advocates who think these agreements should ultimately be up to payers and providers to negotiate amongst themselves.

What are your thoughts about telehealth’s affordability? Let us know how these decisions could affect your needs regarding contracting and credentialing.