Bill description: This bill requires all health insurers cover the costs of telehealth, just as they do health services provided in person.
Analyst’s Note: In 2015, the Legislature passed The Idaho Telehealth Access Act, expanding medical coverage not done in person. The act defines telehealth coverage as “health care services provided by a provider to a person through the use of electronic communications, information technology, asynchronous store and forward transfer or synchronous interaction between a provider at a distant site and a patient at an originating site” (Idaho Code 54-5703). These services reduced costs, provided more effective delivery to patients and generally improved health outcomes (found in Idaho Code 54-5702). This bill requires all insurers offer telehealth services.
Does it give government any new, additional, or expanded power to prohibit, restrict, or regulate activities in the free market? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce government intervention in the market?
This bill further regulates what health insurance providers in the state of Idaho must provide to their clients. The bill states that “Telehealth services received by a resident of this state and provided in a manner consistent with this chapter shall be eligible for coverage by a health benefit plan in a manner equitable to the reimbursement of such services as provided in person.” This applies to government agencies (such as Medicaid and worker’s compensation) as well as private insurers. Requiring telehealth coverage deprives insurance providers of a say in what they will insure. Coverage which insurers offer ought to be decided on by their customers. This bill does harm if it isn’t cost-effective for some insurers to offer telehealth coverage. (-1)
Update: This bill was amended on 3/6. As such this analysis has been updated to match the new language
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