Telehealth Government Mandate Introduced at NCGA

March 26, 2021

Legislation would increase costs and undermine quality for patients

Legislators at the North Carolina General Assembly have put forward a costly and dangerous government mandate that would force families and businesses, through their insurance premiums, to cover (i.e. pay for) any healthcare service provided virtually if it’s covered in-person. 

This proposal could increase costs and undermine the quality of care that patients receive.

HB149: Costs Go Up

As telehealth is defined in the legislation, patients could be on the hook for emails, text messages and chats with their doctor – or between two doctors when the patient isn’t even involved!

Imagine getting a bill in the mail because after uploading your medical history in a patient portal, one doctor texted another about it.

What’s worse, imagine that other doctor is not in your insurance network. Now you’re on the hook for a potentially large surprise bill.

HB149: Quality Goes Down

The legislation also ignores the fact that there are in-person healthcare services where the quality and effectiveness cannot be matched through telehealth.

For example, the quality of in-person physical therapy and dermatology cannot be equaled over video, much less phone or text messaging.

Moreover, there are other healthcare services that simply cannot be safely performed virtually, whether a doctor is on the phone with you or not. Infusions, injections, and drawing blood are just a few examples. 

Telehealth, when done right, has the potential to vastly improve healthcare by expanding access and lowering costs.

But HB149 is not telehealth done right.

It may give a few multibillion-dollar mega-hospital systems a windfall by letting them bill you for things like emails, texts or remote monitoring.

And it may open the door for more private-equity backed provider groups to exploit telehealth in order to maximize their profit-generating surprise billing scheme.

But for consumers, it will only raise costs and lower quality.

And that jeopardizes the long-term goals of telehealth.


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