On May 17, 2016, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed bill S.B. 1363 into law. This bill requires that all private health plans have to pay for telemedicine services in the entire state, rather than just the services in rural areas of Arizona.
The current telehealth coverage law requires that all commercial health insurers provide services to individuals in rural areas. This current law went into place back in January 2015. Because of this current law, all of the residents who live in non-rural areas wouldn’t be able to enjoy telemedicine services with their current insurance plan. Because of the new law going into effect, everyone will be able to enjoy getting telemedicine services, regardless of where they might live.
Thanks to this new bill, the coverage opportunities for Arizona residents has expanded exponentially. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t ample opportunity to continue improving the way things are. This new bill only covers a portion of the telemedicine services, instead of covering all of the current services available via telemedicine to the extent that service is provided in-person. The law gives health plans the chance to limit the amount of coverage available to health care providers that are members of the provider’s network. This new statute will go into effect as of January 1, 2018.
The telehealth providers located in the other states can turn to Arizona for guidance when they advocate and draft their current telehealth coverage laws. Any contract that was delivered, renewed or issued after the January 1, 2015 date has to deliver coverage for services rendered through telemedicine if the service would have been covered through an in-person consultation between the provider and the subscriber.
Current services covered include trauma, cardiology, burn, mental health disorders, infectious diseases, pulmonology, dermatology and neurologic diseases. With 29 states and the District of Columbia having current laws about telehealth insurance, it will only be a matter of time before the rest of the states come on board and offer the same type of services as Arizona and countless others.