In a recent video interview for Carolina Journal, the John Locke Foundation's Katherine Restrepo discusses her research into telemedicine parity laws. In the video, Restrepo concludes that parity laws are not necessary in NC because telemedicine is already being used in abundance to expand healthcare without the encouragement of such laws.
Simply put, let's not solve a problem we don't have.
We have written about telemedicine in the past and have largely come to the same conclusions. We are big fans of telemedicine because it expands access to healthcare and should reduce costs. A telemedicine visit removes the overhead associated with facilities, equipment and staff that providers incur with in-person visits.
But parity laws would require insurers to not only cover telemedicine (for the most part, they already cover many forms of telemedicine), but reimburse providers at the same rate as an in-person visit.
That is, a parity law requires the same rate for a phone conversation as a visit that includes access to and use of professional diagnostic equipment, facilities, utilities and a full staff.
Embracing cost-saving innovation like telemedicine is fantastic, but if the patient's getting less for their money, what's the point?
Some parity laws also create a “price floor.” You read that right. They legislate that companies cannot charge you less than a certain amount. This means a new, innovative company that has figured out how to deliver service at a less expensive rate is legally blocked from delivering that value to patients.
You can listen to the entire audio of the interview here.