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New York is Paving the Way for Telemedicine, Here's How

New York rang in the New Year by becoming the 22nd state to enact a telemedicine commercial reimbursement statute. Sponsored by Senator Catharine Young...

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|Jan 10|magazine8 min read

New York rang in the New Year by becoming the 22nd state to enact a telemedicine commercial reimbursement statute.

Sponsored by Senator Catharine Young (R) and signed into law by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), the legislation represents bi-partisan support to facilitate patient access to telemedicine services through private sector growth and development.

The law requires commercial insurers to cover services provided via telemedicine and telehealth and also contains protections for patients by not allowing deductibles, co-insurance or other conditions for coverage of telemedicine that differ from those conditions applicable to in-person services.

Taking effect on January 1, 2015, the law applies to all policies and contracts issued, renewed, modified, altered or amended after that date.

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It is expected, however, that insurance policies will not likely be updated until later in the year in order to allow time to facilitate implementation of the new requirements.

The New York telemedicine law additionally includes two separate definitions for telehealth and telemedicine which read as follows:

Telehealth: “Delivering health care services by means of information and communications technologies consisting of telephones, remote patient monitoring devices or other electronic means which facilitate the assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management and self-management of a patient’s health care while such patient is at the originating site and the health care provider is at a distant site.”

Telemedicine: “The delivery of clinical health care services by means of real time two-way electronic audio visual communications, including the application of secure video conferencing or store and forward technology to provide or support health care delivery, which facilitate the assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management and self-management of a patient’s health care while such patient is at the originating site and the health care provider is at a distant site.”

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Some New York hospitals and health care providers have already taken the initiative and successfully embedded telemedicine into their patient care delivery models.

Nationwide, state legislatures are enacting laws stating that commercial health insurance companies must cover medical services provided via telemedicine to the same extent they cover medical services provided in-person. Currently, 22 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted these telemedicine commercial insurance laws, with legislation under discussion or development in at least a dozen more states. 

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